Watermelon is one of summer's staples, but is that extra piece at a BBQ good for your health? Turns out a lot of you want to know the answer to that question, as a recent Google search showed that over 22,000 people asked that exact question just as the weather got warmer.
Your answer: A resounding yes.
Watermelon isn't just the quintessential summer dessert, it can also help you recover from a long day at the beach. Lycopene, an antioxidant that gives watermelons (along with tomatoes and guava) their red color, can help repair skin damage from a sunburn. Lycopene and other elements of watermelon are also thought to provide cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, and it can help prevent a sunburn in the first place—though you'll still need to apply sunscreen. (Related: 8 Foods That Help Your Body Recover From A Long Day At The Beach.)
Hot weather means hydration is extra important. At 92 percent water, watermelon helps you feel full, keeps you hydrated, and at 46 calories per cup it won't put you over your calorie goals. Watermelon is also a good source of vitamin C, which can help keep your skin wrinkle-free by helping to produce collagen, protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals, and help the absorption of iron. Not to mention it packs vitamin A, which can benefit eye health and overall immune function.
One thing to note: Watermelon is primarily carbohydrates, but it does have fewer carbs per cup compared to its summer melon cousins, cantaloupe and honeydew. The only thing watermelon vaguely lacks is potassium and fiber (only 2/3 of a gram per cup). Regardless, this all goes to show that yes, you can have that extra piece without thinking twice.
If you're looking for more ways to eat this delicious melon, try chopping it and topping with feta cheese, arugula, mint, basil, salt, and pepper. Or check out these other RD-approved recipes.