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Watermelon For Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body is unable to utilize the sugar that has been absorbed from food. This causes the level of sugar in the blood to rise, leading to many health related issues. For this reason, diabetics have to manage their daily carbohydrate intake lest their blood sugar levels rise too high. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to different parts of the body like the heart and kidneys. In fact, the majority of deaths amongst diabetics is due to cardiovascular diseases.
In order to manage their blood sugar levels, diabetics have to keep a close watch on which foods they eat. Foods that have high carbohydrate content, especially simple carbohydrates need to be avoided. The same remains true for foods that have high sugar content and high saturated fat content.

As watermelon is a sweet fruit, many people mistakenly assume that it is bad for diabetics. Watermelon is good for diabetes management and should form part of a diabetes diet. Watermelon is rich in nutrients which benefit the body in many different ways. High vitamin A content helps maintain your cells’ health and is good for the eyes. Vitamin C helps the body to fight infections and is a potent antioxidant. It is rich in vitamin B1 and B6 which help keep energy levels high. High potassium & magnesium levels help blood circulation, regulate nerve impulses and have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. It is fat free and cholesterol free, both important factors in a diabetic diet. In fact, it delivers more nutrients per calorie than most other fruits.

Lycopene is another nutrient found in large quantities in watermelon. This is another potent antioxidant that protects against heart disease and other circulatory disorders that diabetics are prone to. Antioxidants are molecules that travel through the body and neutralize free radicals. Free radicals, which are caused by oxidation, can cause tremendous damage to cells in the body. They oxidize cholesterol, making it stick to the walls of the arteries thus causing blockages. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In this manner, lycopene can help protect the body from coronary heart disease. It has also been found to be effective in protecting against many cancers like colon cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer. Studies have found that in patients with colorectal adenomas, a polyp that is a precursor to most colorectal cancers, blood levels of lycopene were about 35% lower than in patients with no polyps.

Blood Sugar Levels & Insulin Resistance

Vitamin C and beta carotene, also present in abundance in watermelon, are also very effective at neutralizing free radicals. Studies have shown that high intake of vitamin C can help reduce the severity of asthma attacks as well as reduce the inflammation caused in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Many diabetics complain of feeling only half full after a meal. Watermelon is a good addition to their diet. The high fiber and water content coupled with low sugar content can keep them full without impacting their blood sugar levels. Arginine, another nutrient found in watermelons is very effective in enhancing the effect of insulin on sugar, thus reducing insulin resistance. It is also beneficial in cases of erectile dysfunction, another health issue that many diabetics have to cope with.

Kidney disorders are also common among diabetics. The high potassium content in watermelon helps in washing off toxic compounds in the kidneys. It is also helpful in reducing blood uric acid levels which can otherwise cause kidney damage. The high water content in watermelon also induces frequent urination which helps the kidneys flush out toxins from the body. Most dieticians recommend a diet plan for diabetics with at least 5 - 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The ratio of vegetables to fruit will depend on your personal taste, but it is suggested that you have at least three servings of fruit every day. This may sound like a lot each day, but watermelon can make this feasible. You can have it in the form of a juice which will still deliver all the essential nutrients to your body. For variety, a dash of honey and lime would just add to the taste. It is a great way to beat the summer heat!

And lastly, a word on picking the right watermelon. This can be a tricky affair as the fruit is usually uncut. Look for one that is neither very shiny nor very dull. If the melon doesn’t have this marking, it may be because it was harvested prematurely and will not be as tasty as a result.

Submitted on January 16, 2014