Watermelon: Summer's Superfood

Watermelon is almost synonymous with summer barbecues. This delicious fruit has more going for it than just its cooling, sweet juiciness, however. It’s also packed with nutrients, and a powerful ally for weight loss. Here are seven reasons why watermelon is the perfect fruit for summer — and your health.

Watermelon is very hydrating.

As its name implies, watermelon is absolutely packed with water. In fact, roughly 91% of the melon is all water content! This is great for summer when heat and increased physical activity make hydration especially important.

It’s also good for people whose bodies tend to confuse thirst signals for hunger signals. It’s very common for people to feel like they’re hungry, when they’re actually experiencing the beginnings of dehydration. This can lead to excess snacking when what your body really wants is water.

If you find that you have a hard time staying on top of your water intake, watermelon can be an extra incentive to stay hydrated and healthy. You can even cut one into cubes, freeze them, and add them to beverages. They won’t dilute your drinks as they thaw, and they can infuse water and tea with melon flavor without adding a ton of calories.

It also has electrolytes.

Summer is a good time for outdoor exercise, but things can get dangerous quickly if you experience an electrolyte imbalance. Fortunately, in addition to having a high-water content, watermelon also contains electrolytes. A one cup serving of the fruit has about 170 milligrams of potassium. If you enjoy watermelon with seeds, you’ll also be getting a decent amount of magnesium. If you like, you can try sprinkling a tiny bit of salt on your melon, too. This brings out the sweetness of the fruit and helps you replenish the sodium lost through sweat.

It’s low in calories.

If your health and weight loss strategy involves counting calories, you’ll be happy to know that watermelon can be a great addition to your diet. A one cup serving is only 46 calories, so it’s a snack, side, or even dessert that won’t break your calorie budget. With its sweet flavor and satisfying texture, watermelon is a very good stand-in for higher-calorie treats. Try freezing one and pureeing it with a little honey and lemon juice for a delicious, healthy sorbet.

It’s fat- and cholesterol-free.

If you’re following a low-fat or heart-healthy diet, then watermelon is for you. This fruit contains no fat or cholesterol, so you can indulge to your heart’s content.

Watermelon’s juiciness also makes it a very nice addition to savory salads. Combine it with basil, baby spinach, some nuts, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt. The lemon, salt, and melon provide enough moisture and flavor that you won’t need dressing, while the nuts provide a hit of protein, healthy fats, and a satisfying crunch.

It has antioxidants.

Antioxidants are good for your general health. Every day, your cells experience some oxidative stress. This can come from exposure to things like environmental pollution, but also occurs as a perfectly normal byproduct of your cells’ processes. If you’ve been hitting the gym, for example, exercise naturally triggers the creation of lots of free radicals as cells use oxygen to break down adenosine triphosphate for energy.

Antioxidants help protect cells from experiencing oxidative damage by these free radicals and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.

While watermelon isn’t as antioxidant-packed as some other fruits (we’re looking at you, blueberries), it is an abundant source of specific compounds. It contains 865 international units (IU) of beta carotene, 12 milligrams of vitamin C, and lots of lycopene and cucurbitacin E. Cucurbitacin E is of scientific interest since it has demonstrated a potent anti-inflammatory effect in addition to its ability to scavenge for free radicals.

It’s low in carbs.

Compared to most other fruits, watermelon is relatively low in carbs. This is good news for people attempting high-fat, low-carb diets. One cup of watermelon only has about 11.5 grams of carbohydrates, so it can easily be budgeted in to a low-carb lifestyle.

Since its unique nutrient makeup make it well-suited for people following either a low-fat or low-carb diet, that means that watermelon is one of those foods that people on almost any eating plan can enjoy. No wonder it’s such a popular summer fruit!

It’s a source of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, has a lot of important jobs in the human body. It plays a key role in immune function, eye health, and the health of the nervous system. It’s also needed for the proper metabolism of fats and proteins.

If you’re working out to improve your lean muscle mass, you know how important it is to get enough protein. Making sure you have an adequate vitamin B6 intake can ensure that your body is able to properly use all of that protein. A one cup serving of watermelon provides 0.1 milligrams of B6. This might not sound like much, but it’s actually about 8% of your RDA for this vitamin.

If you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health, no matter what strategy you follow, watermelon can help. It’s tasty, hydrating, low in calories, relatively low in carbs, fat free, and full of micronutrients that are important for health. Add this summer staple to your eating plan and see just how sweet success can be.