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This summertime staple is more than just water

Photo caption: The ripeness of a watermelon can affect the nutritional value.

It’s sweet, juicy and a seasonal favorite; watermelon may be even better for you than once thought.

recent study suggests consuming watermelon is associated with greater nutrient intake and diet quality in both children and adults.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 56,000 adults and children across the U.S. who reported their dietary intake in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found those who ate the refreshing fruit had more than 5% higher intake of beneficial dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A. They also had a higher intake of lycopene, beta-carotene and other beneficial carotenoids. Additionally, these consumers had more than 5% lower intake of added sugars and total saturated fatty acids.

“Packed with nutrients, low in calories and nearly no fat, watermelon is an excellent choice to include in your diet,” says Pamela Voelkers, health coach and registered dietitian at Aurora Health Care Integrative Medicine in Milwaukee, Wis. “A good source of vitamin C along with other vitamins and minerals, it also provides a rich amount of protective antioxidants including lycopene and other carotenoids.”

Lycopene may help reduce or prevent high blood pressure and is linked to heart health. And while tomatoes are touted for their high lycopene content, a fully ripe watermelon has even more.

Researchers in another study reported that eating the fruit daily was associated with lower body weight, BMI, hunger rating and the desire to eat. That’s why it’s an especially great snack option for those trying to lose weight and curb their appetite.

“Watermelon is a great way to stay hydrated, too,” Voelkers says. “Made up of more than 90% water, it’s rightly named and is a perfect way to refresh and rehydrate on a hot summer day or anytime.”

Hydration not only provides many physical health benefits, but also positively affects brain function and mood.

While the fruit can be eaten fresh, if you’re looking for another tasty way to add it to your meals or use up what’s left from the weekend, try this delicious side dish recipe.

And if you’re trying to watch your weight, take this free online quiz to find your healthy weight range and more. 

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.

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