Watermelon is full of goodness
Although our major summer holiday ended last week, we’ve still got at least four hot weeks of August to enjoy. Watermelons are a smart way to help your body manage these last weeks of picnicking and barbecuing.
While the drought earlier this season dried up much of the local crop of watermelon, there’s plenty of the imported fresh variety around. While your first choice should be to eat locally grown fresh produce, as it’s in season, and as there’s been little fresh local supply, we’ll forgive you getting the imported.
Scientific name: Citrus lanatus
Related to: squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe
Vitamins: an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of vitamin A and B6, a good source of vitamin B1
Minerals: a good source of potassium an d magnesium
Watermelon has a high concentration on lycopene. That’s right, it’s the same nutrient that has tomatoes growing in respectability since it’s been proven to offer real protection against cancer.
Lycopene has been studied in humans unlike many other phytonutrients (plant nutrients) which have been studied in animals. Cancers lycopene has been proven to protect against include breast, prostate, endometrial, lung and colorectal cancer.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that patients with a type of polyp known to be a precursor to cancer had blood levels of lycopene that were 35 percent lower than those patients that had no polyps. The study also showed that only low levels of the phytonutrients lycopene and smoking, increased a patient’s risk of cancer. In fact according to that study low lycopene levels increased the risk of developing a colorectal polyp by 230 percent.
Lycopene is also an antioxidant making it an even more powerful nutrient. Antioxidants’ great usefulness in the body is that they neutralise free radicals. Free radicals, as their name suggests, are substances that move freely about the body doing ‘radical’ change. They oxidise cholesterol making it more sticky and therefore more likely to stick to blood cells and the walls of blood vessels thereby narrowing the space in which blood can flow and sometimes completely blocking blood vessels. This of course can lead to heart attacks and/or stroke.
Free radicals also increase inflammation in osteo and rheumatoid arthritis and are responsible for most of the damage to joints that occurs in these conditions. They can also increase the severity of asthma attacks by causing airways to lock shut.
Watermelons, an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C and a very good source antioxidant vitamin A together with it’s lycopene content, make it a good choice for protecting the body from asthma attacks, as well as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
So chow down on the juicy pink fruit for really good hydration and you won’t have to feel even the slightest ping of guilt.