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Watermelon: A Nutrient-Packed & Satisfying Summertime Snack

Watermelon: A Nutrient-Packed & Satisfying Summertime Snack

With the arrival of summer just around the corner, there's one fruit that immediately comes to mind – watermelon! As a dietetic student intern and someone who enjoys a variety of delicious fruits year-round, Ashley Williams, MS RDN, LD, Norman Regional's Supervisor of Clinical Nutrition says watermelon is an essential part of her summer experience.

Whether you're attending a pool party with friends, going to the beach, having a picnic, or enjoying an outdoor concert, watermelon is a staple that adds a refreshing touch to any occasion.

Most people know watermelon is a hydrating fruit, as it consists of more than 90% water. Staying hydrated is vital during the summer months, and watermelon can help with that. However, the health benefits of watermelon go beyond hydration. Did you know that watermelon is also a rich source of antioxidants, including the powerful antioxidant lycopene?

Antioxidants protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals and contribute to overall health. Lycopene, in particular, has been shown to help lower elevated blood pressure and improve heart health. It's also the compound responsible for giving watermelon its reddish-pink color. Furthermore, watermelon has the potential to relieve muscle soreness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

While most of the attention is focused on the juicy flesh of the watermelon, it's important to note that watermelon seeds also offer a host of nutrients.

Watermelon seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, and healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So, the next time you enjoy a slice of watermelon, consider saving and roasting the seeds for a nutritious snack.

One of the many great things about watermelon is that it's a sweet treat that is also low in calories. One Cup of Watermelon.jpg (111 KB)

One cup of Watermelon

According to the USDA, one cup of diced watermelon contains 46 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 mg of calcium, 15 mg of magnesium, 139 grams of water, 865 IU of vitamin A, 12 mg of vitamin C, 1 mg of sodium, and 9 grams of sugar.

Speaking of sugar, there's a common misconception that fruits, including watermelon, are unhealthy due to their sugar content. However, it's important to differentiate between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.

Watermelon contains naturally occurring sugar, which is found in whole, unprocessed foods. On the other hand, added sugar refers to sugar that is added to foods during processing, cooking, or before consumption. While watermelon does contain sugar, it's accompanied by a wide range of nutritious components that make it a healthy choice.

Williams says, "I'm particularly interested in diabetes care. I have relatives and friends who live with diabetes, and they are often conscious of their food choices and blood sugar levels. One cup of watermelon contains approximately 12 grams of carbohydrates, almost equivalent to one carbohydrate serving (15 grams). My advice for individuals with diabetes or anyone concerned about blood sugar levels is to pair a serving of watermelon with a good source of protein and fat, such as cheese and/or nuts. This combination helps slow down the spike in blood sugar levels by incorporating other macronutrients that provide sustained energy."

As you soak up the sun this summer, Williams encourages you to say "yes" to watermelon and appreciate the nutritious qualities this fruit offers.

A healthy and balanced eating regimen is like fuel for your body, so why not have fun while nourishing yourself? Enjoy the sweet and refreshing taste of watermelon while reaping the benefits of its nutrients. Here's to a delicious and health-conscious summer!

Article by: Ashley Williams, MS RDN, LD, Norman Regional's Supervisor of Clinical Nutrition