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Do you ever wish there was a superfood that could keep your heart healthy, ease your aches and pains and keep your skin looking young? There is. Even more good news: it doesn't involve reaching for healthy-but-unpleasant kale smoothies or boring spinach salads. This new superfood is not only good for you, it's delicious.
I'm taking about watermelon. Although it's 92% water, watermelon is jam-packed full of nutrients and vitamins that make it the perfect healthy snack.
July is National Watermelon Month in the US, so there's no better time to chow-down on this fantastic superfood.
However, remember to not eat any food 30 minutes before or after you eat melon. Remember, eat melon alone or leave it alone, or else it will make your stomach groan.
So, let's explore seven of the biggest secret health properties of this superfood:
Improve Heart Health
Watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene gram for gram than tomatoes. This makes it effective at preventing heart disease. Not only does eating foods rich in lycopene reduce the risk of stroke by almost 20%, a study at Purdue University found lycopene actively protects cells from damage and may prevent heart disease.
Apart of lycopene, watermelon is also bursting with Arginine and Citrulline. Citrulline improves circulation. Arginine can also help improve blood flow, and may prevent the build-up of excess fat. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon lowers blood pressure in obese adults, leading to a lower risk of future cardiac events.
Ease Aching Muscles
The high levels of lycopene in watermelon make it a natural anti-inflammatory, so it's the perfect thing to eat if you're aching after a long jog. Not only does lycopene reduce inflammation, it is also an antioxidant that neutralises free radicals (unstable molecules in the body).
Watermelon also contains choline, which was found (in a 2006 study, published in the journal Shock) to suppress inflammatory responses. Another anti-inflammatory property in watermelon is cucurbitacin E, which blocks a pain- and inflammation-causing enzyme called cyclooxygenase
Reducing inflammation can benefit people with a wide variety of conditions, from long-term illnesses such as arthritis, to people will temporary aches. Another study found that men who drank unpasteurised watermelon juice prior to working-out had reduced soreness a day later to those who took a placebo.
Protect Against Cancer
The humble watermelon has another claim to fame: it could help protect against cancer, probably due to the antioxidant properties of lycopene.
A study with mice found that lycopene suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells, and another study suggested it may prevent the proliferation of prostate cancer cells.
Perhaps even more encouragingly, 2014 meta-analysis of 10 studies showed that consuming foods high in lycopene may help protect against ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women. Ovarian cancer is known as "the silent killer", as symptoms rarely appear until it's too late. This means that the protective potential of watermelon could be a lifesaver.