NutritionThe Training Edge

Watermelon Wow!

Refreshing taste and hot health benefits make this fruit a top summer pick.

A natural hydrator because of its water content (92%), watermelon is also loaded with nutrients, including heart-smart lycopene and citrulline, the amino acid that the body converts to arginine. A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that arginine can decrease body fat and enhance muscle. In another study, watermelon juice reduced post-exercise muscle soreness. To get the benefits, you don’t need to be confined to simple slices. Try these refreshing and tasty watermelon recipes.

Reach for the Blender

Making a watermelon smoothie is as easy as blending together ice, chunks of seedless watermelon, and some low-fat milk. To go beyond the basic smoothie:

•Trade out the milk for lemonade or limeade for a tasty cooler.

•Blend with other types of fruit and protein powder—like in the nutrition-packed smoothie recipe (Endless-Summer Smoothie at article end).

•Puree chunks of watermelon, alone or with other melons, then add a few tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt to create a chilled summertime soup.

•For gazpacho, liquefy half of an amount of chunked watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber in a blender. Pour it over the unblended half, then add cilantro, oil, and vinegar to taste.

Get Creative with Salads

Watermelon can be enjoyed in ways both sweet and savory.

•A sweet approach: Reunite chunks of watermelon with its extended family—pieces of cantaloupe and honeydew. Top with a squeeze of fresh lemon and some peppermint leaves.

•A savory spin: Plate a bed of arugula covered with chunks of watermelon and cucumber, thin slices of red onion, and crumbled feta cheese. Dress the salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fresh black pepper.

Add to Appetizers

You can do a lot with watermelon when you think creatively:

•Wrap chunks of watermelon with prosciutto; skewer along with fresh basil leaves.

•Build “towers” by alternating squares of watermelon and feta, tucking small leaves of arugula between the layers. Drizzle towers with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then serve on small plates.

•Create a salsa out of diced watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and a touch of vinegar. Serve with chips. Or take that same salsa and spoon it into the center of large butter lettuce leaves, then fold and eat like a taco. (Like heat? Add some of your favorite chopped hot peppers.)

Endless-Summer Smoothie (Recipes are a guide~adjust with your alternatives and creativity!)

1/4    cup 1% milk

3/4    cup seedless watermelon cubes

1/2    cup strawberries

1/2    cup low-fat plain yogurt

2       teaspoons vanilla whey-protein powder

3       ice cubes

Makes 2 servings

Per serving (approx.): 92 cal, 7 g pro, 2 g fat, 1 g fiber

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National Academy of Sports Medicine

National Academy of Sports Medicine

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