What is the best thing about summer holidays? Well of course watermelon! It takes us back to our childhood full of beautiful sunny days and family gatherings. It’s a dessert every grown up says yes to and the best part- you can eat it with your hands!
Watermelon is a flowering plant that is vine-like and whose fruits are not fruits nor vegetables but berries (so-called “pepos”) which are also called watermelons. Berries have an interior which is sweet, juicy and full of water (hence the name) and exterior in a form of smooth hard rind which is green with dark green stripes or yellow spots. The first watermelons appeared in South Africa some 5,000 years ago, and we still can find many wild variants there, from sweet, too bland and bitter. They spread from there and by the 2000th year BC they were cultivated and became an everyday food in ancient Egypt. One of the earliest proofs of that are the hieroglyphs on the buildings from that time that tell stories about the haerries (so-called “pepos”) which are also called watermelons.
But why is this sweet delight good for us- here is what Dr Axe has to say about watermelon;
10 Health Benefits of Watermelon
Research from the journal Nutrition has concluded that watermelon can help the immune system stay strong and defend against cardiovascular disease — and potentially a natural cancer treatment, too — due to its effects on nitric oxide levels. (1) Studies have shown that watermelon is a rich source of citrulline, a certain type of amino acid that is metabolized to turn into arginine in the body. Arginine is an essential amino acid — meaning we must get it from food sources — and is used in the synthesis of nitric oxide, which is important for maintaining an effective immune system.
As a prominent vitamin C food, the benefits of watermelon including helping to improve immune function, shorten the duration of sickness and improve symptoms, and help the body defend against heart disease and cancer. (2) Studies also show that the vitamin C found in watermelon is especially beneficial to individuals whose immune system has been weakened due to stress, which is one of the biggest reasons for ongoing inflammation that we commonly see in today’s modern society. Indeed, watermelon is a healing food because of its ability to protect the body from sickness and reboot the digestive tract, where much of the immune system is actually located.
Helps Manage High Blood Pressure and Improves Heart Health
Watermelon helps prevent both low potassium and magnesium deficiency, and these are two critical nutrients used to help remedy high blood pressure naturally. Consuming proper amounts of potassium and magnesium from a healthy diet is correlated with overall reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease mortality. (3) Studies published in the journal Advances in Nutrition have indicated that intaking potassium-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can positively impact blood pressure reduction in adults, which is useful in lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease. (4) , a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon, also improves cardiac function. Studies have shown that watermelon can help to reduce inflammation, relieve arterial stiffness, balance cholesterol and improve systolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension. (5)
Prevents Kidney Stones
Studies have shown that potassium found in fruits and vegetables like watermelon is very helpful in cleaning toxins and washing out waste from the blood, helping to prevent kidney stones. (8) When the blood is contaminated with too many toxins, deposition builds up in the vulnerable kidneys. This can lead to a high concentration of uric acid in the blood and can potentially cause kidney stones, gout and other painful conditions. Watermelon benefits also include being a natural diuretic, meaning it helps to increase urine production that takes waste out of the body with it. While caffeinated drinks and alcohol also act as diuretics, they put stress on the kidneys to do so, while watermelon does not.
Watermelon is made up of mostly water, with about 91 percent of the fruit being H2O. While it may seem counter-intuitive, eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content actually helps the body to detox and rid itself of excess water and fluids, relieving uncomfortable bloating and swelling. Potassium and magnesium are also important for detoxification. Potassium acts as an electrolyte and promotes circulatory health, helps to manage by flow and hydration levels within the body, and allows oxygen to reach your cells. At the same time, potassium facilitates in balancing water retention in the gut and keeping you from becoming dehydrated. Filled with water and easy on digestion, it can work as a natural cure for diarrhea, another one of the benefits of watermelon. Watermelon is also considered an alkaline food, meaning it helps to bring the pH level (key to good health) of the body back to its natural level. It’s believed that disease has a much harder time developing in an alkaline environment inside the body, compared to a more acidic one. Eating many alkaline-forming foods can protect your body from disease by decreasing inflammation.
Can Help Fight Cancer
The carotenoid phytonutrient lycopene that is present in watermelon has been linked to fighting breast and prostate cancer. Research has shown that lycopene plays a part in keeping cell membranes strong so they can protect themselves from toxins that can potentially cause cell death or mutation. Watermelon is also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which help to fight free radical damage and stop DNA from harmfully mutating, leading to the formation of cancerous tumors. Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can enhance the cancer-fighting effect of certain drugs used in chemotherapy and that it it’s able to target only the harmful cells that are in need of these nutrients, unlike other drugs that usually kill healthy cells too.
But the most important reason to eat it is it is fun!!
Hope your holiday is fabulous!
Happy Healthy Eating