Hooray for watermelon! It’s one of the delightful signs that summer’s finally here. There’s nothing as refreshing in hot weather as a cool wedge of watermelon. Turns out, it’s also one of the healthiest foods you can eat!
ABCs of WATERMELON’S HEALTH BENEFITS
Watermelon is rich in vitamins A, B6, and C. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, vitamin C has particular importance as an antioxidant, blocking some of the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or if you’re exposed to tobacco smoke. Over time, the buildup of free radicals is largely responsible for the aging process — and may play a role in causing cancer, heart disease, and conditions such as arthritis.1 Vitamin C can also help bolster the immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses.2
And there’s more good news!
According to the non-profit Watermelon Board:3
- The vitamin A in watermelon is important for optimal eye health and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
- Vitamin B6 in watermelon helps the immune system produce antibodies needed to fight many diseases. This vitamin helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
And minerally speaking: watermelon is also a source of potassium, a mineral found inside of every cell, that’s needed for maintaining your water balance. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps.
EXCLUSIVE WATERMELON DISH! FROM CHEF VIVIAN HOWARD
We recently reached out to Chef Vivian Howard (the innovative and award-winning host of PBS’ A Chef’s Life, and best-selling author of the book Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South). We were curious to see if Vivian might have an inventive watermelon recipe, and she sure came through.
Watermelon and Avocado Salad with Jalapeno, Lime, and Basil
2 cups watermelon cut into cubes
1 medium ripe avocado, sliced
¼ jalapeno, sliced thin
4-5 large basil leaves, torn into roughly 3 pieces each
Juice of 2 limes or 3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
Arrange cubes of watermelon and pieces of avocado on two plates for serving. Then place jalapeno slices and basil leaves over top of the watermelon and avocado.
Squeeze the lime juice over all the ingredients and finish with the salt.
Vivian said, “I have an office a few blocks from my restaurant, and about two times a week I’ll make lunch for everyone who works there. This is everyone’s favorite summertime salad and it’s super simple to make.”
EAT BETTER FOR BETTER HEALTH: WORK WITH A NUTRITIONIST!
One of the benefits of being a member of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), is that seeing a Nutritional Counselor or Registered Dietitian is covered by most of our plans. That’s because we know that the healthier you eat, the healthier you can be.
Everyone can benefit from working with a Nutritional Counselor. For example, this counseling can help you:
- manage diseases and chronic conditions (like high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes)
- reach your ideal weight
- relieve anxiety and depression
- boost and maintain energy throughout the day
- lessen aches, pain, and joint issues
- address food allergies
Finding a Nutritional Counselor is easy. Blue Cross NC members can log into Blue Connect to look up your plan’s coverage, and then use the Find a Doctor tool to search for a “Dietitian” or “Nutritionist.”
Enjoy Vivian’s recipe, and have a great summer!
1 US Department of Health and Human Services https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm
2 Watermelon Promotion Board, Orlando, FL https://www.watermelon.org/about-us
3 Watermelon Promotion Board, Orlando, FL https://www.watermelon.org/about-us