December 10, 2010

Health Benefits of Melons

Melons aren't just cooling and delicious for hot summer days - they are packed with nutrients, too. Melons are part of the gourd family that includes cucumbers and squashes with the difference that melons are consumed as fruits due to their much sweeter and juicy flavor. Many melons originated in the Middle East and steadily spread across Europe and later to the world.
There are different types of Melons like:
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe (Musk melon)
  • Honeydew Melon etc
Like many other fruits, they are also fat and cholesterol free, high in water content, and are relatively low in calories. They are a good source of the antioxidant vitamins A and C to protect you from many diseases. Here are some of the health benefits of including melons in your diet:
  • Boost of Energy: Most melons are loaded with B vitamins. B vitamins are responsible for a lot of your body's energy production (they are necessary for the body to process sugars and carbs). Hence, eating melons can give you substantial energy.
  • Cancer Prevention: Melons (especially watermelon) are a rich source of lycopene (plant pigment that gives watermelon and tomatoes their red color), a carotenoid known for its antioxidant capacity. Consumption of the lycopene has been associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. It also prevents heart and colon cancers.
  • Heart care: Lypocene, found in abundance in watermelon, also improves cardiac functions. A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School researchers found that the women with the highest blood plasma concentration of lycopene had a 33 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest levels. Also, the fiber present in melons along with vitamin C and potassium helps to reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe.
  • Lower Blood pressure: Due to their high water content and combination with potassium (a mineral that helps control blood pressure), melons are helpful in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. One cup (250 ml) of cantaloupe or two cups of watermelon contains about 10 percent of the recommended daily value of potassium.
  • Diabetes: Minerals such as potassium and magnesium present in melons help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level.
  • For weight loss: Melons are ideal food for people who want to lose weight because they are low in sodium, fat-free, cholesterol free and low in calories (a whole cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories). They will also make you feel fuller because of the high water content. The natural sweetness found in melons will help you not to be tempted to grab those high calorie sweets.
  • High in Fiber: Melons comprise of a noteworthy amount of dietary fiber, making it good for those suffering from constipation.
  • Prevent Heat strokes: Melons are mostly made of water so they are very effective against dehydration. They can also reduce the heat in the body and therefore can prevent heat related disorders. It can also relieve tiredness.
  • Helpful for women: Melons provide folic acid which is important for pregnant women as it helps to create healthy fetuses.
  • Helpful for men: An amino acid called citrulline, present in watermelon, is used by the body to make another amino acid, arginine. Arginine is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunctions. It is a known stimulator of nitric oxide, which is thought to relax and expand blood vessels much like Viagra and other drugs meant to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
  • Beneficial for Eyes: The beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) present in watermelon helps keeps your vision sharp, especially at night. The Vitamin A fights against age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of vision loss in older folks.
Melons are wonderful for everyone. You can eat melons as it is, blend it with some water to make an energizing juice, or even toss it with greens for a salad.

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