While growing up, watermelon was a summertime favorite at my house. Sharing the table alongside other picnic fare, its juicy, sweet refreshing taste quenches my thirst brings back memories of hot days. Little did I know that this summertime fruit has surprising health benefits!

Watermelon contains Arginine and L-Citrulline. Various published studies have shown that these powerful amino acids contribute to heart health, can relieve sore muscles, increase energy and, most surprising, prevent mild impotence. At 40 calories per cup, this summer treat is also a great source of the antioxidant Lycopene, which reduces inflammation and is showing promising results in preventing and treating cancer.

You would also think that since watermelon is 92 percent water, it wouldn’t have much else going for it, but think again! It is packed with Vitamins A and C, which are good for your immune system and help keep your skin and bones healthy. Watermelon also contains potassium and magnesium, which help lower blood sugar levels.

Easy Recipe Idea: Salads
It’s important to start with a ripe melon when preparing a dish with watermelon. If you tap it, you should hear a hollow thump, and there will be a yellow mark near one end. Try to choose a watermelon without blemishes.

Next time you make your favorite cucumber and goat cheese salad, add 2 cups of cubed watermelon. I also add chopped fresh basil.

For an easy summer side dish, mix cubed, ice-cold seedless watermelon with chopped onion and feta cheese to taste. I whisk olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper in a separate bowl with a little chopped mint and pour it over watermelon mixture.

Watermelon can also be added to just about any fruit salad mix. Adding mint or basil gives it that extra unique flavor!