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No other fruit says summer like the
subtly crunchy, thirst quenching
watermelon. Although
watermelons can now be found in
the markets throughout the year,
the season for watermelonis in the
summer when they are sweet and
of the best quality.
As a member of the Cucurbitaceae
family, the watermelon is related to
the cantaloupe, squash and
pumpkin,other plants that also
grow on vines on the ground.
Watermelons can be round, oblong
or spherical in shape and feature
thick green rinds that are often
spotted or striped. They range in
size from a few pounds to upward
of ninety pounds.
Health Benefits
Watermelon is not only great on a
hot summer day, this delectable
thirst-quencher may also help
quench the inflammation that
contributes toconditions like
asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes,
colon cancer, and arthritis.
Concentrated in Powerful
Sweet, juicy watermelon is actually
packed with some of themost
important antioxidants in nature.
Watermelon is an excellent source
of vitamin C anda very good source
of vitamin A ,notably through its
concentration of beta-carotene.
Pink watermelon is also a sourceof
the potent carotenoid antioxidant,
lycopene. These powerful
antioxidants travel through the
body neutralizing free radicals.
Free radicals are substances in the
body that cancause a great deal of
damage. They are able to oxidize
cholesterol, making it stick to
blood vessel walls, where it can
lead to heart attack or stroke. They
can add to the severity of asthma
attacks by causing airways to
clamp down and close.They can
increase the inflammation that
occurs in osteoarthritis and
rheumatoid arthritis and cause
most of the joint damage that
occurs in these conditions, and
they can damage cells lining the
colon, turning them into cancer
cells. Fortunately, vitamin C and
beta-carotene are very good
atgetting rid of these harmful
molecules and can therefore
prevent the damage they would
otherwise cause. As a matter of
fact, high intakes of vitamin C and
beta-carotene have been shown in
a number of scientific studies to
reduce the risk of heart disease,
reduce the airway spasm that
occurs in asthma, reduce the risk
of coloncancer, and alleviate some
of the symptoms of osteoarthritis
and rheumatoid arthritis. A cup of
watermelon provides 24.3% ofthe
daily value for vitamin C, and,
through its beta-carotene, 11.1%
of the DV for vitamin A.
More on Watermelon's Lycopene
Watermelon is also a very
concentrated source of the
carotenoid, lycopene. Well
knownfor being abundant in
tomatoes and particularly well
absorbed from cooked tomato
products containing a little fat such
as olive oil, lycopene is also
presentin high amounts in
watermelon and mangoes.
Lycopene has beenextensively
studied for its antioxidant and
cancer-preventing properties. In
contrast to many other food
phytonutrients, whose effects have
only been studied in animals,
lycopene has been repeatedly
studied in humans and found to
be protective against a growing
list of cancers.These cancers now
include prostate cancer, breast
cancer, endometrial cancer, lung
cancer and colorectal cancers. A
study published in the American
Journalof Clinical Nutrition found
that in patients with colorectal
adenomas, a type of polyp that is
the precursor for most colorectal
cancers, blood levels of lycopene
were 35% lower compared to
study subjects withno polyps.
Blood levels of beta-carotene also
tended to be25.5% lower,
although according to researchers,
this difference was not significant.
In their final (multiple logistic
regression) analysis, only low levels
of plasma lycopene (less than 70
microgram per liter) and
smokingincreased the likelihood of
colorectal adenomas, but the
increase in risk was quite
substantial: low levels of lycopene
increased risk by 230% and
smoking by 302%. The antioxidant
function of lycopene-its ability to
help protect cells and other
structures in the body from
oxygen damage-has been linked in
human research to prevention of
heart disease. Protection of DNA
(our genetic material) inside of
white blood cells has also been
shown to be an antioxidant role of
Watermelon and Green Tea Team
Up to Prevent Prostate Cancer
Choosing to regularly eat lycopene-
rich fruits, such as watermelon,
and drink green teamay greatly
reduce a man's risk of developing
prostate cancer, suggests research
published the Asia Pacific Journal
of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH,
et al.)
In this case-control study involving
130 prostate cancer patients and
274 hospital controls, men
drinking the most green tea were
found to have an 86% reduced
risk of prostatecancer compared,
to those drinking the least.
A similar inverse association was
found between the men's
consumption of lycopene-rich
fruits and vegetables such as
tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit,
watermelon, papaya, and guava.
Men who most frequently enjoyed
these foods were 82% less likely to
have prostate cancer compared to
those consuming the least
lycopene-rich foods.
Regular consumption of both
green tea and foods rich in
lycopene resulted in a synergistic
protective effect, stronger than the
protection afforded by either, the
researchers also noted.
Practical Tips: Get in the habit
ofdrinking green tea and eating
lycopene-rich foods such as
*.Take a quart of iced green tea to
work and sip throughout the day
or take it to the gym to provide
prostate protection while
replenishing fluids after your
*.Start your breakfast with a half
grapefruit or a glass of papaya or
guava juice.
*.For a great summer thirst-
quencher, blend chunks of
watermelon with a few ice
cubesand a splash of lime juice.
Serve with a fresh mint leaf.
*.Serve cooling watermelon chunks
as a side dish to balance the flavor
of spicy black beans or other fiery
Mexican dishes.
Energy Production
Watermelon is rich in the B
vitamins necessary for energy
production. Our food ranking
system also
qualified watermelonas a very
good source of vitaminB6 and a
good source of vitamin B1,
magnesium, and potassium. Part of
this high ranking was due to the
higher nutrient richness of
watermelon. Because this food has
a higher water content and lower
calorie content than many other
fruits (a whole cup of watermelon
contains only 48 calories), it
delivers more nutrients per calorie-
an outstanding health benefit!
Protection against Macular
Your mother may have told you
carrots would keep your eyes
bright as a child, but as an adult, it
looks like fruit is even more
important for keeping yoursight.
Data reported in a study published
in the Archives of Ophthalmology
indicates that eating 3 or more
servings of fruit per day may lower
your risk of age-related macular
degeneration (ARMD), the primary
cause of vision loss in older adults,
by 36%, compared to persons who
consume less than 1.5 servings of
fruit daily.
In this study, which involved over
110,000 women and men,
researchers evaluated the effect of
study participants' consumption of
fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant
vitamins A, C, and E; and
carotenoids on the development of
early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a
more severe form of the illness
associated with vision loss. While,
surprisingly, intakes of vegetables,
antioxidant vitamins and
carotenoids were not strongly
related to incidenceof either form
of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely
protective against the severe form
of this vision-destroying disease.
Three servings of fruit may sound
like a lot to eat each day, but
watermelon can help you reach
this goal. What could be more
delicious on a hot summer's day
than a slice of sweet,
refreshingwatermelon? For a great
summer spritzer, blend
watermelon with a spoonful of
honey and a splash of lemon or
lime, then stir in seltzer water and
decorate with a sprig of mint. If
you didn't experience thefun of a
seed spitting contest asa child, it's
not too late to introduce this
summer ritual to your children or
the child in you!
Arginine to Prevent
ErectileDysfunction, Lower Blood
Pressure, Improve Insulin
Sensitivity One more reason to
enjoy watermelon before summer
ends:this sweet, crunchy, cooling
fruitis exceptionally high in
citrulline, an amino acid our bodies
use to make another amino acid,
arginine, which is used in the urea
cycle to remove ammonia from the
body, and by the cells lining our
blood vessels to make nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide not only relaxes blood
vessels, lowering high blood
pressure, it is the compound
whose production is enhanced by
Viagra to prevent erectile
dysfunction. Arginine hasbeen
shown to improve insulin
sensitivity in obese type 2 diabetic
patients with insulin resistance.

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