Nearly every article you’re apt to come across extolling the healthy benefits of watermelon is going to start out by visualizing the enjoyment of eating a watermelon on a hot summer’s day. It is hard not to do this. The watermelon is a staple of the family summer time picnic. Few things taste better than a cool slice of watermelon, and one of the joys of the summer picnic would be a good old-fashioned seed spitting contest. We also remember the feel of watermelon juice on the sides of our face as we got deeper into the slice.
Good, and good for you
Back in our younger years we usually didn’t give much thought to the health benefits of watermelon. Now it is nice to come to the realization that something that tastes so good is at the same time very good for you. Even though it’s mostly water (water is good for us too), the watermelon is a highly nutritious vegetable. It is a distant relation of the squash and the pumpkin. Some insist on calling it a fruit, but rather than argue about it, simply call it a melon, the cantaloupe being a close relative. However you classify it, it’s a very healthy food.
Among other things, the watermelon is packed with several highly important nutrients. These are Vitamins C and A, the all-purpose vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B1 (thiamine), plus potassium and magnesium, two minerals vital to our health and well-being.
A powerful antioxidant
Vitamins A and C, and other elements contained in the watermelon, specifically beta-carotene and lycopene, make up a potent group of powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals which are always present in our body, and always doing a certain amount of damage to tissues and organs. Antioxidants yield a wide range of benefits, everything from slowing the aging of our skin, to protecting us from heart disease by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol by free radicals, which leads to clogged arteries. A nice thick slice of watermelon will provide nearly a quarter of a person’s daily requirement of vitamin C.
Beta carotene and lycopene
Beta carotene and lycopene, two other antioxidants, also play a role in the prevention of cancer. The effectiveness of the prevention of cancer in humans that lycopene offers has been the subject of numerous studies. Findings have verified that a greater presence of lycopene correlates fairly well to a lesser chance of cancer developing, especially prostrate, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers. That should not be interpreted to say that eating lots of watermelon will cure cancer, it won’t, or that it is guaranteed to prevent cancer. The benefits found in watermelon simply help prevent cancer. In other words, watermelon is good for you.
Many varieties available
It used to be that one could only enjoy the benefits of watermelon in mid summer, like on the 4th of July. That’s no doubt one reason why we have such fond memories of the watermelon. These days they are available in the supermarket almost any day of the year. There are a number of varieties one can choose from. The large ones a small child can barely carry are often a favorite, though you can purchase a half watermelon or quarter watermelon, or buy on one the softball-sized miniature varieties. There are yellow watermelons as well. Many of the watermelons purchased now days are of the seedless variety, which are usually the best choice once you’ve graduated from the seed spitting habit.
The watermelon still seems to taste best in the summer. We may never accept sliced watermelon as part of a Christmas or Thanksgiving meal, though you’ll often find watermelon in fruit dishes at wintertime parties. Winter or summer, the watermelon tastes a little better, now that we know how many benefits it provides.