Today’s guest post is courtesy of Alison Barkman, MS, RD. Please be sure to check out her bio at the end!
Summer is a wonderful time to discover sweet, juicy fruits that are not available all year round. Watermelon conjures up thoughts of picnics, summer barbecues and even a watermelon cosmopolitan. As a registered dietitian, people have told me they stay away from watermelon because it’s “high in sugar” and “fattening”. Not true! And for all of you workout mommies out there, watermelon is a great post-workout treat by itself, or part of a tasty recipe.
Here’s the 4-1-1.
Watermelon is a juicy, red-pinkish flesh-colored fruit that is at its peak ripeness and tastiness in the summer months. One cup of watermelon provides approximately: 46 calories, 12g carbohydrates (10g are from natural sugar), 1g fiber and 1g protein. Since many are concerned with its sugar content, compare the 10g of sugar in one cup of watermelon to:
· 1 large apple = 25g sugar
· ¾ cup grapes = 20g sugar
· 1 medium banana = 19g sugar
All fruits naturally have sugar, some more than others. But before you swear higher-sugar fruits off, you should certainly consider all of the health benefits the fruit provides. In the case of watermelon, you are getting 21 percent the daily value of vitamin C, 18 percent the daily value of vitamin A, a better dose of lycopene than found in raw tomatoes, and 92 percent of this fruit is all water. So why should all of you workout mommies care about any of this?
First, vitamin A is best known for its vital role in vision. It is also key in tissue and bone repair. This is important to all you ladies busting your humps on a regular basis with turbo-charged workouts. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that protects against cell damage from free radicals. Antioxidants can help fight against heart attack, stroke, decrease inflammation causing osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, and decrease the severity of airway inflammation in asthma sufferers.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant most popularly known to be found in both fresh and canned tomatoes. Many don’t realize this cancer-fighting antioxidant is also abundant in watermelon. Studies show lycopene can be a powerful fighter against prostate, lung, breast, colorectal and endometrial cancers.
Any runners out there? Watermelon’s high water content makes it a perfect post-run snack to help replenish water lost through sweat while pounding the pavement during the hot summer months. Another key to recovery for sore muscles is to replete glycogen (carbohydrate) stores that were used up for energy to fuel your run. Watermelon may be a cool, inviting treat after a run compared to a dry sports bar or bagel. The antioxidants can help sooth any inflammation, the sugar will give you back your zapped-out carbohydrate stores, and the water content will help re-hydrate.
How can you buy the most perfect-tasting watermelon? If it is sold pre-cut, look for a deep-colored flesh with no white streaks. When buying a whole watermelon, look for one heavy in size with a rind that is not too shiny, yet not overly dull. One side of the outer watermelon rind should be a different color from the rest, such as a cream or yellow color.
Of course, the best way to enjoy and reap the most benefits from watermelon is to eat it in its whole, fresh fruit form. But hey, we all work so darn hard to keep our bodies lean and energetic, why not experiment with some fun ways to enjoy watermelon? How’s about that watermelon cosmo? Test out some of these summer recipes below:
Cube 8 to 10 cups of watermelon (discard seeds). Puree in a blender until you have four cups. Mix with two tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice and one cup simple syrup (boil equal parts water and sugar until sugar dissolves; then let syrup cool). Chill in an ice-cream maker, or leave in your freezer until slushy.
(Recipe from “Eat this Now: Watermelon”, Runner’s World, July 2009)
Add cubed watermelon to spinach or other mixed greens, walnuts, goat cheese and a vinaigrette of your choice.
1 ½ ounces vodka
¾ ounce Triple Sec
½ ounce Roses lime juice
2 ounces watermelon juice
Pour all ingredients over ice and shake in tin until ice cold. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with watermelon ball.
(Recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board)
About Alison Barkman, MS, RD:
I am a registered dietitian (RD), nutrition PR consultant and writer. On my blog Food Chat(www.alisonbarkman.blogspot.com), I discuss all things nutrition, review the latest foods on the market and dissect nutrition research information for health-conscious readers. My other newly launched blog, RunBuggy (www.runbuggy.blogspot.com) allows me to vent my deepest thoughts on running while pregnant. I share my stories on running with a growing baby belly, wondering what running will be once I’m a true mommy, and candidly share some down-right jealousy when I see people sprinting effortlessly down my block. Enjoy my blogs and feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.