If there’s any food that says “summer,” it has to be watermelon, right?
There may be nothing that tastes better on a hot, dry day than a juicy red slice of watermelon.
“When one has tasted watermelon,” said American author Mark Twain, “he knows what the angels eat.”
Most of us can relate. But this juicy fruit isn’t just about refreshing a parched throat. Watermelon has a number of health benefits that you may not be aware of.
We have a tasty recipe for “watermelon pizza” and once we fill you in, you can read all about the health benefits. Don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to get a few more of these melons on your next trip to the farmers market.
Watermelon Pizza Recipe!
We got this recipe from recipe creator Gina Homalka over at Skinnytaste.com. It looked so delicious we had to share it. Let us know what you think!
- 1 watermelon slice, cut 1-inch thick from center of the widest part
- 1 oz crumbled Feta cheese
- 5 to 6 Kalamata Olives, sliced
- 1 tsp mint leaves
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic glaze
Slice the widest part of a round watermelon in half. Lay the flat side down on a cutting board and cut a 1-inch thick slice from each half. Cut each half into 4 wedges.
Place them on a round dish like a pizza and top with cheese, olives, balsamic glaze and mint leaves.
Now for the Health Benefits of Watermelon
Journalists went crazy with the headlines. “Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect,” one read. “Watermelon Juice, ‘Nature’s Viagra,’” read another.
The hoopla came from a 2008 study out of Texas A&M University. Researchers there looked into watermelon’s phyto-nutrients, which include healthy antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline, which scientists found helps relax blood vessels, much like Viagra does.
“The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body,” said Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station.
When we consume watermelon, the citrulline is converted to arginine, which is an amino acid that does a lot of wonderful things, including:
- Helps heart health
- Boosts immune system
- Relaxes blood vessels, which may help treat erectile dysfunction
Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which is the same thing Viagra does. The result is blood vessels that are more relaxed and better able to allow greater amounts of blood to flow through them. Though this effect can help treat erectile dysfunction, it can also help treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
In fact, researchers found evidence linking watermelon to heart health in 2012. A study out of Purdue University and the University of Kentucky reported that mice fed a diet including watermelon juice had lower weight, cholesterol, and plaque in their arteries than those who didn’t receive the beverage.
In an earlier 2007 study, researchers reported that watermelon juice reduced fat accretion, lowered blood sugar levels, enhanced heart function, and improved blood vessel function. Another 2012 study reported that watermelon extract helped reduce blood pressure and improved function of arteries in obese middle-aged adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension.
A 2013 study also found that watermelon juice and/or citrulline extract helped to reduce the recovery heart rate in athletes after working out, and also helped reduce muscle soreness.
So in summary, though we need more studies, we have evidence that watermelon:
- May help lower blood pressure
- May help treat erectile dysfunction
- May help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- May promote healthy weight loss
- May relieve muscle soreness, particularly if consumed after a workout
- Boosts your antioxidant levels
- Increases blood vessel function
Watermelon is also a great fruit to consume for your skin. Here are some of the reasons why:
- It’s rich in anti-aging antioxidants
- It’s full of water, which helps to keep skin hydrated
- It is a good source of collagen-building vitamin C
- It’s a great source of lycopene, which naturally helps protect skin from UV damage
- It helps sustain healthy blood flow, which is important for healthy skin
- It helps detox your system—citrulline and fiber cleanse from the inside out—reducing your risk of acne breakouts
How’s that for an impressive list of benefits!
Do you have any watermelon recipes you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Science Daily – Watermelon May Have Viagra-effect
Purdue University – Watermelon shown to boost heart health, control weight gain in mice
Green Med Info – Watermelon juices (and/or L-citrulline) help to reduce the recovery heart rate and the muscle soreness after 24 h.
Green Med Info – Watermelon extract supplementation has a beneficial effect on arterial function and blood pressure.
Green Med Info – Watermelon pomace (rich in citrulline) significantly ameliorates the metabolic syndrome in diabetic fatty rats.