Watermelon agua frescas + smoothies have been my go-to lately. I'm no health guru, but it got me to thinking and wondering about the benefits of watermelons. Other than the obvious: hydration. So, I did my research on the green-striped 20 pounder and to my pleasant surprise, watermelons are packed with numerous antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins & minerals that I would have never even thought or knew existed. Antioxidants - these are substances that prevent cell damage caused by oxidation. They have properties that are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and specifically vitamins A, C and CoQ10 are anti-aging. Antioxidants in watermelon include:
Lycopene - one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world and the active chemical responsible for the deep red color in foods. Watermelon contains 7-10 mg per cup. It is said to prevent heart disease and helps prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers by fighting free radicals. It also keeps your eyes healthy - stay back cat-a-racts! It also improves heart health, lowering blood pressure and more. It keeps bones strong and it is good for our brains. It's absorption is increased when mixed with small amounts of fat. For example, avocado with tomato salsa or watermelon boosts lycopene absorption four times.
Phenolics - flavonoids, carotenoids, and triterpenoids. Again, these compounds contribute to the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Vitamins + Minerals C - Watermelon is a great source of vitamins + minerals. It contains a good amount of vitamin c and also copper (iron), biotin, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Cucurbitacins - May help lower risks of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Tyrosine - increases dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that increases happiness in the brain.
Citrulline - watermelon contains unusual amounts of citrulline. Ballpark of 250 mg per cup. Citrulline is converted by our kidneys into arginine. We need arginine to heal wounds, help the kidneys remove waste products from the body, maintain immune and hormone function, and dilate and relax the arteries. Arginine turns into nitric oxide in the body and nitric oxide is very good for expanding the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and decreasing plaque growth and blood clotting.