Sure, at just 46 calories per cup, watermelon won't pack on pounds.
That doesn't mean it's light on health perks: Each serving delivers 20 percent of your daily vitamin C and 17 percent of your vitamin A, two nutrients needed for strong immunity. Watermelon also provides potassium, a mineral that helps steady blood pressure. And pink-flesh varieties are loaded with lycopene, a plant pigment linked to lower rates of heart disease and certain cancers.
Trying to use up a monster melon? Go savory. Brush a few thick slices with olive oil, sear on a hot grill for five minutes, then sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Another idea: Toss together diced watermelon, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapeño pepper, and a squirt of lime juice for a delicious spin on salsa. Or use watermelon in place of tomatoes in a salad. It makes an especially tasty trio with feta cheese and peppery arugula.
Don't get stuck with a dud! When shopping for a whole watermelon, look for these clues to quality:
Storing an uncut watermelon at room temperature raises its levels of lycopene by up to 20 percent. Wash and slice the fruit within a few days of purchase and stick leftovers in the fridge.
Cancel the spitting contest. Watermelon seeds are edible! Toast them with a sprinkle of your favorite spices and nibble away for a healthy hit of fiber, protein, and magnesium.
Get cooking with watermelon today! Try these healthy watermelon recipes.
Sources: Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet (McGraw-Hill); Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet (Pocket Books); Jackie Newgent, RD, author of Big Green Cookbook (Wiley); Stephanie Simek, spokesperson, National Watermelon Promotion Board