Get FUELED with Molly | Watermelon: Health benefits + how to get more in your diet

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There’s a reason that summer is the season for watermelon: not only does it taste its best during the summer, reaching its peak flavor during the warm months, watermelon is also even more nutrient-rich this time of year!

7 reasons + ways to eat more watermelon:

It’s hydrating. No surprise here. But you may find it interesting that watermelon is 92% water – so you really can eat your way toward better hydration.

Top source of lycopene. Tomatoes get the glory when it comes to lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, but watermelon actually has more lycopene – about 40 percent more, on average. Our bodies also absorb lycopene from watermelon more easily. Unlike tomatoes, which need to be cooked in order to maximize lycopene absorption, we can effectively absorb and reap the benefits of lycopene from raw watermelon.

Improve blood pressure. Watermelon is one of the top food sources of citrulline, an amino acid that can be converted into arginine, which can help to improve blood flow, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health.

NOTE: While there’s not enough citrulline in watermelon for it to immediately have a significant impact on blood pressure, when it’s incorporated along with other healthful food choices, it’s at least a nudge in the right direction.

Sugar Busting. Watermelon has a reputation for being high in sugar. The reality: Nearly all fruits are naturally high in sugar, and they’re also rich in nutrients.

Here are the stats: One cup of cubed watermelon has just 45 calories, 11 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of (naturally-occurring) sugar. A cup of cubed sweet potatoes, by comparison, has 175 calories, 41 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of sugar – nearly four times more carbs and twice the sugar of watermelon.

Riper is better. All of the goodness of watermelon – the lycopene, beta carotene, and overall antioxidant content – gets better with age. The redder the flesh of the watermelon, the higher the concentration of nutrients; lighter or whiter flesh means fewer nutrients.

Don’t toss the rinds. Most of us eat the juicy red part of watermelon and leave the rinds behind. But the rinds are entirely edible (just remove the outer peel), and are also as rich in flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C as the flesh itself.

Watermelon rinds can be sliced and added to your favorite stir-fry recipe, juiced, or pureed for chilled soups, like the recipe for Commander’s Palace Caribbean Watermelon Gazpacho, below.  

Easy ways to add more watermelon into your diet. Simply slice it and eat it plain, or with a sprinkle of salt. Or go with the classic pairing of watermelon, fresh mint and feta (or goat cheese, for a lower-sodium option). Make watermelon salsa, using watermelon in place of some (or all) – of the tomatoes in your favorite salsa recipe.

Grill it. Juice it.  Puree it, rind and all, for soups – the options are endless. Here are three fun, no-fail recipes that look as fabulous as they taste.

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