“Sugary” Summer Treat Packs a Big Health Boost
The holiday season is over, and cold weather has arrived in earnest. Now we’re hunkered down for the long winter months. What better way to take your mind off wintry weather than by talking about a summertime favorite: watermelon.
When I was growing up, most people thought of watermelon as just “sugar and water.” It was a tasty summertime treat… but not much else. But don’t be fooled. Watermelon is loaded with high-powered nutrition.
Watermelon doesn’t really deserve its sugary reputation. It’s sweet, but a cup has only 46 calories. So it’s not really that sugary at all. It also delivers about 20% of your daily need of vitamins A and C… plus a mix of B vitamins and several important minerals.
Watermelon also contains nutrients you won’t find on the food labels. For example, it provides l-citruline and l-arginine. Your body can covert these amino acids into nitric oxide (NO) – a chemical it uses to keep your arteries flexible and blood flowing smoothly.
That’s not just a theory, either. A brand-new study from Florida State University found that watermelon promoted lower blood pressure in adults within 6 weeks.1
L-arginine offers other health benefits, too. Italian researchers found it supports better blood sugar control. When they added it to people’s diets, they found it improved their antioxidant status and blood flow, too.2
Lycopene is another nutrient that’s abundant in watermelon. And it’s like a first-aid kit all by itself. Here are just a few of the ways lycopene promotes better health…
- Supports lower cholesterol levels. A pair of Australian scientists reviewed 12 studies on lycopene. They found that lycopene promoted an average 10% drop in LDL cholesterol. Subjects in these studies lowered their blood pressure, too.3
- Boosts skin health. Too much sun can damage your skin. You can wind up looking leathery and old. But researchers in Germany discovered that lycopene promotes lower levels of sun damage in the skin.4 and less sun damage can help you look healthier and more youthful.
- Promotes healthy arteries. Your blood carries nutrients throughout your body. And it plays an important role in your sex life, too. So keeping your arteries healthy is important. According to new research from Korea, lycopene supports improved arterial function – an important step in healthy blood flow.5
Like other members of the vitamin A family, lycopene is also a powerful antioxidant. And studies show it can help promote prostate health.6 so, guys, don’t feel guilty about reaching for a second slice of watermelon.
Actually, with all these benefits, nobody should feel guilty about enjoying a slice of watermelon. It’s just another good reason to look forward to the coming summer months.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 Figueroa A, et al. Effects of watermelon supplementation on aortic blood pressure and wave reflection in individuals with prehypertension: a pilot study. Am J Hypertens. 2011 Jan;24(1):40-4. Epub 2010 Jul 8.
2 Lucotti P, et al. Beneficial effects of a long-term oral L-arginine treatment added to a hypocaloric diet and exercise training program in obese, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetic patients. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;291(5):E906-12. Epub 2006 Jun 13.
3 Ried K and Fakler P. Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta-analyses of intervention trials. Maturitas. 2010 Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]
4 Stahl W and Sies H. Carotenoids and protection against solar UV radiation. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002 Sep-Oct;15(5):291-6.
5 Kim JY, et al. Effects of lycopene supplementation on oxidative stress and markers of endothelial function in healthy men. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]
6 Desgrandchamps F and Bastien L. Nutrition, dietary supplements and prostate cancer. Prog Urol. 2010 Sep;20(8):560-5. Epub 2010 Jun 2.