Watermelon is good, and good for you
Seriously, what’s more refreshing than watermelon on a hot summer day? In life, I rarely think, I want some watermelon. But then summer rolls around and I take my first bite and I’m like oh yeah, this stuff is amazing! So I get a giant watermelon and find all sorts of ways to eat it.
And because I’m oh-so-curious about the health benefits of everything I consume, I did a little background research, and it turns out it really is a whole lot more than water!
It also just so happens that watermelon is very detox-friendly, which is great for my current cleanse efforts. There’s even a few versions of a watermelon detox diet that calls for eating or drinking pretty much just watermelon for a couple days. It’s great for cleansing because watermelon is low calorie and since it’s made up of 92% water, it’s extremely hydrating.
While I’ve never gone full-on watermelon, I have been incorporating watermelon into my summer cleanse recipes as much as possible, and here’s why.
Top health benefits of watermelon
Kidney Health. Beyond being simply hydrating, one of the primary benefits of watermelons is that it improves kidney function. It acts as a mild diuretic and due to this kidney-cleansing property, it has a history of being used to treat kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Watermelon contains high amounts of calcium and potassium, which aid the kidneys in flushing out toxins and reducing the concentration of uric acid.
Heart and Bone Health. Watermelon also has the highest percentage of lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable – it contains 18mg in two cups compared to just 4mg in a medium tomato. High lycopene consumption is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and improved bone health. The deeper the red, the higher the lycopene concentration, so, the riper the better!
Cancer Treatment and Prevention. Bonus – lycopene has been directly linked to cancer prevention and treatment. Research indicates that lycopene can induce apoptosis of cancer cells, interrupt cancer cell growth, and regulate carcinogen metabolism. Lycopene also reduces insulin growth, which is a key component of fighting cancer
Blood cleanser. Watermelons also contain high amounts of citrulline, an amino acid that is converted into arginine by the kidneys and other organs. This conversion is thought to improve blood flow, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health as well as filtration of the blood, which by definition ‘cleanses’ the blood.
Insulin regulation and Weight Loss. And interestingly, evidence from health studies indicate that the more this citrulline-arginine conversion happens, the better your body is able to prevent the excess accumulation of fat cells. So for anyone watching their weight, eat up!
Furthermore, a study on obese, diabetic patients found that L-arginine had a significantly beneficial effect on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Inflammation-fighter. Furthermore, these two amino acids have been found in research studies to reduce inflammation, which is an underlying factor in many diseases, including cancer. Evidence indicates that watermelon itself can improve inflammation.
Antioxidants. Watermelon contains a good amount of antioxidants, which are crucial for combatting oxidative stress. This is extremely important for our overall health because oxidative stress is associated with damage to DNA, biological membranes, and proteins in humans. Consuming sufficient antioxidant-rich foods can help combat this oxidative stress by mitigating the harmful effects of free radicals.
Digestion aid. Watermelon’s high water and fiber content also aid in digestion. It eases constipation and promotes regularity.
…I could go on, as watermelon and its health-boosting properties have been associated with easing muscle soreness, lowering blood pressure, improving skin, and more. Phew!
Watermelon every day, every way
So, perhaps needless to say, I’ve been making extra efforts to get more of this pretty melon in my system. Watermelon is delicious in its own right, but I’ve done juices, smoothies, cold soups, and even salads.
I love putting watermelon in my salads, especially with cucumber. Now, I have always been a fan of combination watermelon – feta combo. It strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory: it’s juicy and tangy, light and rich, crisp and chewy.
I put it on a bed of arugula because I love the contrast of the bitterness arugula provides in this recipe, but other greens like spinach or chard work well! Cucumber adds another refreshing touch, and I top it with avocado, seeds to add a little crunch, mint if I have it on hand, a drizzle of lemon and olive oil and a little seasoning. Delish!
So here’s my simple version of vegan watermelon feta salad!
Vegan Watermelon Feta Salad Recipe
- handful of arugula (or greens of choice)
- 1/2 cup watermelon
- 1/2 chopped cucumber
- 1/4 – 1/2 avocado
- 1-2 tbsp vegan feta
- pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
- drizzle of olive oil
- squeeze of lemon juice
- mint, fresh or dried (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
How to make:
- Assemble your salad (put all the ingredients in a bowl).
- Eat up!