It’s mid-August and the heat is relentless — have some watermelon.  It’s not only a delicious way to cool off, it’s also highly nutritious with many health benefits.

Hydration.  Watermelon is 90 – 95% water and a great substitute for drinking plain water on a hot day, especially for those who tend to gravitate towards sugar-sweetened beverages.

Good for your heart.  Watermelon is high in citrulline.  It  gets converted by your body into the amino acid arginine, which relaxes the arteries and keeps them flexible.  Watermelon is also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant which helps prevent chronic illness like heart disease.

Reduces blood pressure.  Citrulline helps increase the nitric oxide levels in your body, which helps your blood vessels expand and lowers your blood pressure.  Watermelon is also high in potassium, with two wedges (about 1/8 of a melon), providing abut 640 mg.  Potassium helps balance out the sodium levels in your blood to lower blood pressure.

Helps prevent cancer.  Watermelon is an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene.  It helps stop the growth of cancer cells, prevent DNA damage, and also helps break down cancer-causing products in your body.  Vitamin C is also a cancer-fighting antioxidant.

Protects your eyes.  Lycopene and vitamin C are both associated with a decreased risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Lower cholesterol.  Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol as well as helping to prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.

Pre and post-workout help.  Besides helping keep you hydrated, the potassium in watermelon helps your muscle function.  The citrulline helps blood flow and exercise performance as well as reducing muscle soreness after exercise and improving recovery time.

Good for your skin and hair.  Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, which gives your skin strength and elasticity, and helps replace dead skin cells.  It also helps promote healthy hair growth.  Proper hydration is a must for healthy skin.

Weight control.  The high-water and low-calorie content in watermelon makes it a good snack to help fill you up without causing weight gain.

Besides just eating the watermelon, you can also turn it into juice in the blender with a squeeze of lime for flavor, use the juice in cocktails or to make popsicles, or add the fruit to salsas and salads.

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