National Watermelon Day

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What is your ideal summer fruit? Many people would say watermelon, which offers such a refreshing accent to long, hot days. Watermelon—which is celebrated across the country on August 3rd—is not only delicious, it’s great for you too. Here are 7 reasons to maximize your enjoyment of this American favorite:

It’s low in calories

Enjoying unlimited fresh produce in season is the easiest—and healthiest—way to trim calories from your diet year round. At a mere 46 calories a cup, watermelon certainly fits the bill, satisfying your craving for a sweet treat while promoting a trim, healthy body.

It’s a hydrating food

Thirst quenching watermelon is also a delicious way to replenish body fluids, which is vital since over 2/3 of your body consists of water. Fruit and veggies with a high water content fill you up without filling you out. At over 90% water, watermelon is a perfect example.

It’s rich in important nutrients

Watermelon contains vitamin A and beta carotene for healthy vision, and vitamin B-6 which supports proper nerve function, red blood cell development, and helps your body break down proteins. And vitamin C in watermelon boosts immune health and protects your cells from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and disease.

It’s a source of cancer-fighting lycopene

According to the USDA, watermelon offers 9 to 13 milligrams of lycopene per cup—about 40% more than raw tomatoes. Lycopene, which occurs naturally in certain plant tissues, appears to protect against several types of cancer. And lycopene levels in fat tissue—an indicator of consumption—have been linked with reduced risk of heart attack.

It may help lower blood pressure

Recent studies suggest that watermelon is an excellent natural source of L-citrulline, a compound similar to L-arginine. Apparently, L-citrulline is crucial to the formation of nitric oxide which helps to widen blood vessels and reduce hypertension. The potassium in this tasty melon also helps regulate blood pressure and alleviate muscle cramps.

It’s a versatile treat

While eating watermelon provides your body with liquid needed for optimum health, you can also “drink” your melon. Learn how to make your own deliciously refreshing juice here: http://www.foodfit.com/recipes/recipe.asp?rid=1200 Watermelon also factors into salsas, salads and other svelte summer recipes: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/fruits/melons/watermelon/main.aspx

It’s easy to grow

If you really love this incomparable melon, you might try growing your own. All it takes is a few feet of garden space or a large planter box. For directions and smart growing tips, go to: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2856/how-to-grow-watermelons

Last but not least, learn how to pick a ripe watermelon in a snap with this short video: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/4236/video-how-to-pick-a-ripe-watermelon

We hope we’ve done justice to the noble watermelon with these insights. One thing is certain—summer wouldn’t be the same without it!

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