Did you know that watermelon is actually a vegetable rather than a fruit?
A member of the squash and cucumber family, this sweet, juicy treat is a nutritional powerhouse. Low in calories—a cup of cubed melon contains about 40 calories—watermelon is loaded with the benefits of lycopene, a carotenoid that protects against heart disease and prostate and other types of cancer.
The benefits of watermelon juice may also include beef up levels of arginine. Researchers from Texas A&M University found that drinking watermelon juice with meals for three weeks increased blood levels of this amino acid by 22 percent.
Why is this benefit of watermelon juice important? Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps regulate blood pressure, support healthy circulation and even boost male sexual function.
To find the best watermelons, and therefore get the greatest benefits of lycopene, rather than “thumping” melons to find a good one, look for one that has a yellow underside and is smooth and heavy for its size. And don’t store watermelon in the refrigerator—those kept at room temperature have considerably more beta-carotene and lycopene than chilled melons.