Mother Nature must be on our side. If for no other reason, than she gave us delicious, sweet, refreshing watermelon as our ally against disease.
The watermelon story begins with free radicals. They sound like a terrorist group and, for your body, they are. These cellular “rebels” wage war on health and could be one of the underlying causes of aging, disease, memory loss, and reduced immune function.
Free radicals are oxygen fragments (also called oxidants) inhaled in air pollution and tobacco smoke, consumed in fatty foods, and generated in the body during normal metabolic processes. Left unchecked, oxidants, attack cell membranes and the genetic code – a process called oxidation. Like the bumper on a car, your body “rusts” when exposed to oxygen, which causes cells to either die or mutate. Cell “rusting” or oxidation contributes to most age-related diseases, from heart disease and cancer to cataracts and possibly diabetes. Free radicals also damage the delicate communication pathways in your brain. Minute by minute, day by day, year after year, decade upon decade, free radicals are attacking and damaging one cell after another until the build up results in age-related diseases.
The good news is – your body has an anti-free radical system, called the antioxidants, that prevents oxidants from damaging cells. Consuming an antioxidant-rich diet, by blocking free radical damage, helps lower the risk for all kinds of diseases, from heart disease and cancer to dementia and cataracts. Antioxidants also help protect the immune system from damage and might even help prevent premature aging.
Stockpiling antioxidants is essential throughout life. That means loading the plate every day with real, unprocessed foods rich in antioxidants. Some of the most antioxidant-packed foods are colorful fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon.
Watermelon is not just a chin-dribbling, delicious snack, it also is a great source of the potent antioxidants – vitamin C and beta carotene. Vitamin C is the primary antioxidant in the body’s watery compartments, from the blood to the fluid within each cell. It also is important in forming collagen that helps strengthen blood vessels against free radical attack. Beta carotene is especially effective in preventing free radicals from forming and by strengthening the immune system.
Watermelon’s real claim to fame, however, is its rich content of lycopene, which gives this fruit its deep red color. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant associated with heart and blood vessel health, which might explain its effectiveness in helping prevent diseases, such as heart disease and prostate cancer. Who would think something as delicious as a juicy slice of watermelon could also contain such a wide array of antioxidants that protect your body from so many diseases. Thank you Mother Nature!
What a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth and protect your body from free radicals at the same time! Plus, you’ll be getting ample amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene, and no cholesterol, fat, or sodium. That’s the perfect strategy for fighting the war against disease.