Growing up in the Englewood community of Chicago, I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house. Grandma’s garden was one of the biggest and best in Englewood, stocked full of collards, pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even sunflowers. Every summer, she’d plant, grow, and harvest at least 2-3 watermelons and slice them up like candy for all her grandchildren to enjoy.

Grandma didn’t even realize she’d introduced us to one of the world’s healthiest fruits!

You might not even be aware of the many health benefits that come with enjoying sweet, delicious watermelon.

For starters, regular consumption of watermelon has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure in people with diagnosed hypertension and borderline high blood pressure. This occurs primarily because watermelon is a rich source of L-citrulline, an important amino acid that stimulates dilation (widening) of blood vessels in such a way that promotes healthy blood flow thereby reducing blood pressure levels.

These effects are especially beneficial since high blood pressure inherently increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Related Article: Effective Strategies for Avoiding Hypertension

In addition to L-citrulline, the ripest watermelon with the reddest flesh houses incredibly large amounts of carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidant compounds that protect the cells, tissues, and organs of the body from free radical damage. Due to their effects on free radicals, carotenoids have been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes, and numerous forms of cancer.

You can also boost your intake of vitamin C by eating watermelon. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant that plays a critical role in proper functioning of the body’s immune system. An adequate intake of vitamin C is crucial for good health, as deficiency can increase your body’s vulnerability to all types of infections and eventually lead to anemia, poor wound healing, and even gum disease.

Related Article: What Free Radicals Really Do to Your Body

Though the content of vitamin C in watermelon isn’t as much as that of an orange, a single wedge supplies nearly 40% of a day’s worth.

Finally, if you’re watching your weight, watermelon can greatly support your efforts. This is mainly due to its fiber composition and relatively low-calorie count (less than 50 per cup). Since watermelon is comprised of about 80-90% water, it’s an excellent way to fuel your workouts. Coupled with the fiber it contains, the water content of watermelon also helps to increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) and reduce overeating.

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With all this good nutrition, watermelon should certainly be a key part of your diet. The versatility of this oh-so delectable fruit is endless, as it can be eaten as a stand-alone snack or included in yogurt, sorbets, smoothies, and much more. Even the seeds of watermelon are packed full of nutrition! When roasted, watermelon seeds are as crispy and savory as pumpkin seeds making them the perfect choice for a healthy snack.

Related Article: Surprising Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds