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No summer is complete without taking a big bite out of a juicy and refreshing slice of watermelon. When we think of watermelons, we’re instantly reminded of family barbeques, summer camps, and hot summer beach days. The great news is that it’s not only a summertime staple, but it’s also a healthy addition to our diets.
Despite being roughly 92 percent water, watermelon contains many nutrients. One bite of that pink, juicy fruit provides your body with a long list of nutrients that includes vitamins A, B, and C, potassium and lycopene. Lycopene is what gives watermelons their vibrant pink-red color and protects us against cardiovascular disease, stroke, elevated blood pressure, and potentially some cancers. Another fruit that’s also an excellent source of lycopene is the tomato. However, unlike watermelons, tomatoes need to be heated for the lycopene to be readily available and absorbable. Thankfully, we can reap the benefits of lycopene from watermelons straightaway.
To offset watermelon’s lack of fiber, it’s low in calories and sugar. One cup of diced watermelon is just 50 calories and contains roughly 10 grams of sugar – compared to a cup of bananas or blueberries, which contains at least 15 grams of sugar. Watermelons may have a low sugar content and a high water content to slow that sugar absorption down, but they also have a high glycemic index. People who are monitoring their blood sugars can still enjoy it in moderation alongside a balanced diet.
While watermelon may have a greater effect on blood sugar levels than other fruits do, you can still have it in moderation, especially during the summertime when it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Watermelons are some of the most hydrating foods you can eat. Many athletes use watermelon to stay hydrated before a competition. The combination of potassium and water, along with minimal fiber, makes it nature’s sports drink.
With such as high water content, no one would imagine that watermelons also contain many essential nutrients. Historically, it was thought to be full of sugary water. We now know that it provides many health benefits, from detoxing to neutralizing harmful free radicals. Watermelon continues to be a classic summer favorite and a healthy, festive addition to any meals, barbeques, parties, and other get-togethers.
Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.
Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.
She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.
Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!