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July 29, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Watermelon for Wellness: 8 Mouth-Watering Recipes!

By Christina Pasternak More Blogs by This Author

As a symbol of summer, watermelon is a food that instantly instills a degree of happiness. Memories of being barefoot at the beach with my freckled shoulders and wind-whipped hair make me smile. I can taste the watermelon juice that ran down my chin at family barbecues just thinking about it, and I cant forget the seed-spitting contests my siblings and I had in the backyard. (The best seed spitter won the first trip down the Slip N Slide!) Summertime is a simple, carefree season, and there is no food that better reflects this idea than this sweet, juicy melon.

Yet, for reasons unclear, watermelon has been dismissed as a food with no nutritional value. Its just sugar and water!

Not true!

Though watermelon does in fact contain about 92% water, it has only half the sugar of an apple. It tastes much sweeter, however, because sugar is its primary flavor-producing element. So, the next time someone claims that these ripe beauties are nothing but sugar and water, let them know that watermelon is nothing but nutrients and water.

In the holistic health world, watermelon is considered a cold food that cools and rehydrates the body. It relieves thirst and edema and stimulates urine flow. In fact, the ground seeds of watermelon have been used in herbal medicine as a diuretic and kidney cleanser. Due to its high water content, watermelon is an excellent detoxifying food.

Nutritional Value

Because watermelon is primarily water and nutrients, its a low-fat, low-calorie food thats not only bursting with flavor, but also packed with nutritional value. Heres what you can find inside this sweet and juicy summertime melon:

  • Vitamin A: Helps support eye health and is a free-radical-fighting antioxidant, which is essential for anti-aging and disease prevention.
  • Vitamin C: Boosts the immune system, helps heal wounds, prevents cell damage, and promotes healthy teeth and gums.
  • Vitamin B6: Assists in the production of serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that help stabilize our mood.
  • Lycopene: Watermelon has the highest concentration of this nutrient than any other fruit or veggie, even tomatoes! Lycopene may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Not only that, research has concluded that lycopene can help protect our skin from sun damage.
  • Magnesium: Considered the anti-stress mineral, magnesium is a natural tranquilizer that relaxes muscles, blood vessels, and the gastrointestinal tract. It also restores energy levels and is a well-known treatment for PMS symptoms in women.
  • Potassium: Watermelon is a good source of potassium, which helps muscle and nerve function, assists the body in maintaining proper electrolyte balance, and helps fight high blood pressure.
  • Amino Acids: Watermelon contains citrulline and arginine, which promote healthy arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular strength.
  • Water: Watermelon is 92% water, making it an incredibly hydrating and cooling food. Eat watermelon after an intense workout, and you can literally feel it cooling down your body.

Nutritional Profile

One cup of watermelon is only 45 calories and contains our daily values of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin C: 20.5% DV
  • Vitamin A: 17.2% DV
  • Potassium: 4.8% DV
  • Magnesium: 3.8% DV

My Watermelon Detox Drink

One of my favorite ways to enjoy watermelon is as a detoxifying drink. This mixture has just a few simple ingredients and can be made in a flash. Its cool, refreshing, sweet, and will assist in gently flushing out accumulated toxins. The lime juice helps stimulate the digestive tract, and the mint helps to relax stomach muscles and break down fat. Not only does this watermelon detox drink taste deliciously sweet and summery, but it will help with the ongoing cleansing our body requires to feel and look its best.

More Watermelon Recipes!

Watermelon Lemonade Slush

"This slushie is as beautiful as it is refreshing. Fresh basil is the secret ingredient: We steep it in a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), then remove it before blending the slushie, so it adds a subtle herbaceous note." Recipe HERE!


Watermelon Appetizer Bites

Watermelon Rounds w. Goat Cheese, Bacon & Basil [left] "This is a charming little bite of summer. You can make it ahead of time and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar on top at the last second. It is easy, fresh, and flavorful.You will be surprised at how these diverse flavors play together." Recipe HERE!

Greek Style Watermelon Cubes [right] "Usually when you think of watermelon salad you expect to have chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, andhoneydew together. But watermelon is wonderful when enjoyed in a savory way too. Here you take a big block of watermelon,spread the top with some goat cheese, add some pistachios for crunch, some thinly shaved red onion on top, and dip it in a little bitof a balsamic reduction." Recipe HERE!

Watermelon Salad w. Cucumber & Mango

"The salads base is all about the fresh fruit. Watermelon, cucumbers and mango.And then to boot, it has one of our other favorite international flavors, an Asian dressing. You may think these might be an odd flavor combo but Im here to tell you it totally works. Itwas a no brainer that this is the recipeI hadto share." Recipe HERE!

Grilled Watermelon

"Grilling the watermelon enhances that sweetness and adds a touch of smoky flavor.Blue cheese and salty prosciutto pair well with sweet melon in this sweet-savory side dish." Recipe HERE!

Dehydrated Watermelon Slices

"Dried watermelon tastes like freakin' candy.Not kidding. All on its own. No added sugar or anything.There's not much of a recipe here. Just slice the watermelon (seedless is best) uniformly (I tried to keep my slices at about 1/4 inch), lay the slices on the dehydrator trays (sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt if you want to go that route) and dry at 135 degrees until leathery but not completely brittle. Be prepared though: this will take a long time." Recipe HERE!

Strawberry, Watermelon Layer Cake

"Learn how to make the famous cake from Sydney's Black Star Pastry! Rope in the kids and bake this pretty and fruity dessert together." Recipe HERE!

References:

Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The encyclopedia of natural medicine. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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