The Remarkable Healing Powers of Watermelon

By Sara Butler

Watermelon for Your Health

I have some seriously great memories of sitting in the backyard with my dad on a summer evening, eating a big ol’ slice of watermelon, letting the juice drip down my chin, and having a contest centered around who could spit seeds the farthest.

I may be older -- (cough) 40 (cough) -- but I still enjoy sitting down with a big slice of watermelon on a hot summer day, perhaps even more now that I’m feeling the first signs of arthritis in my poor knees after a particularly tough workout. Oh, and because I also have kids of my own; can’t forget the kids, although for the life of me I can’t remember where my 40-year-old self left them -- or my keys.

What does watermelon have to do with your joints? Research has shown that watermelon, aside from tasting great and being hydrating, has a host of benefits for your achy joints and muscles. So, grab a napkin to wipe off your chin and let’s learn all about the healing powers of watermelon!

Help with Stiff and Sore Muscles

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t woken up the morning so sore after a previous day’s workout and wondered if a rogue band of ninjas snuck into their room and beat them up. It turns out that if you want to defeat those rogue ninjas, you don’t need nunchucks, throwing stars, or cat-like reflexes -- you simply need watermelon.

Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which helps to increase circulation and reduce lactic acid buildup, which may help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. In a study out of Spain, athletes given watermelon juice had reduced muscle soreness and experienced faster recovery than those given a placebo. A much better experience than battling ninjas, I suspect.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Watermelons may be mostly made up of water, but they also pack in a lot of nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and lycopene -- not to mention a host of amino acids and antioxidants that are great for your health.

The lycopene in watermelon has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to improve your overall health and help soothe your achy joints and muscles. Sore muscles aside, perhaps one of the most exciting discoveries about the lycopene in watermelon is that it can also help lower your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer.

The Rheumatoid Arthritis Link

It’s well-known by now that your diet has a huge impact on your overall health, but not simply because of the role it plays in weight management and reducing your chances of developing certain chronic diseases. For people fighting the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, watermelon may prove an important ally in alleviating pain.

Studies have shown that a high concentration of carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin (say that fast three times!) in watermelon can help reduce the risk of experiencing a flare-up for those with the disease.

National Watermelon Day is August. 3, and there are a lot of reasons to celebrate this spectacular and remarkable fruit. So, go ahead, enjoy some tasty watermelon for your health and see just how far you can spit those seeds!

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