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Hy-Vee Dietitian: Watermelon

Watermelon - For Naturally Beautiful Skin

During the summer, you probably stock up on sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and cover-ups to protect your skin from the sun. But did you know another way to battle the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays can be found right in the produce aisle of your supermarket?

As it turns out, watermelon as well as ruby red grapefruit and tomatoes are all rich in lycopene. This powerful antioxidant found in reddish-colored fruits tends to act as a natural sunscreen. It actually protects skin cells from the sun's burning rays which can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer, and replenishes them. In addition, lycopene helps your skin act as a natural filter, allowing enough sunlight through for your body to produce vitamin D.

Besides helping to prevent sunburns, lycopene can also help prevent wrinkles. It strengthens the elasticity of skin tissues while keeping them from losing their tension.

To increase lycopene absorption from food, serve it with a bit of oil such as salad dressing or olive oil. Best picks for lycopene include cooked tomato products such as tomato soup, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce and canned tomato sauce; and watermelon, ruby red grapefruit and guava.

Watermelon Salsa (Serves 16 – ¼ cup each)

All you need:
2 cups chopped watermelon
2 kiwifruits, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
1 cup diced strawberries
½ cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Juice of one lime

All you do:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Serve with baked pita chips, over chicken or fish or as a refreshing salad alongside a sandwich.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 0 g protein, Vitamin C 30%.

Watermelon Refresher (Serves 8)
Make the heat melt away with frozen watermelon cubes floating in a sparkling beverage.
All you need:
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
½ cup water
¼ cup lime juice (about 1 small lime)
¼ cup light agave nectar
4 cups lemon-lime or other clear diet soda

All you do:
Puree watermelon and water in a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart pitcher. Stir in lime juice and agave nectar then pour all into an ice cube tray. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. To serve: divide cubes between 8, 12 ounce tall glasses. Fill with clear soda and garnish with watermelon slices, if desired.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 0 g protein, Vitamin A 8%, Vitamin C 15%.

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