GUEST BLOG ENTRY: HOW TO “BEAT THE BLOAT” IN THE NEW YEAR

December 28th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

As a former competitive eater, I’m no stranger to eating more than I should. But trying to stay away from the food you crave around the holidays can be really difficult. So what do you do? We asked Elizabeth Somer, our expert nutritionist and dietitian, how to avoid feeling bloated and, more importantly, how to stay satisfied without being stuffed.

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Who hasn’t had one of those days when you can’t get your “fat” jeans to zip up? Your eyes are puffy, your canvas shoes are too tight, your stomach resembles a water balloon, and you feel like you’ve gained 10 pounds since lunch. One in every 10 people report being frequently bothered by bloating. The good news is, all of this is avoidable!

Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD; image courtesy of VickyandJen.com

Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD; image courtesy of VickyandJen.com

There are two basic causes of bloating. First, if you are puffy all over, that’s water retention. The one-two punch to beat it is to cut back on sodium and consume more water. (That’s right, consume more water!)

Give up the salty junk, like processed and fast foods, and consume more liquids to dilute the sodium in your body so your kidneys can flush out excess fluid. Watermelon is Mother Nature’s natural diuretic. It’s 92% water, low in sodium, and rich in another mineral – potassium – which makes it the perfect combo for flushing out sodium and being bloat-free. Compliment that watermelon snack with enough water throughout the day so your urine is pale yellow.

Second, if it’s only your tummy that’s pooching, that’s probably gas. Typically, too much gas-forming foods, such as legumes, sugary or highly refined grains, and even dairy products and wheat for some people, can cause gas when bacteria that live in your colon dine on leftovers your small intestine didn’t digest. The result is bloating and discomfort. Cut back or cut out these foods, eat frequent small meals, and avoid chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, and wolfing down a meal where you swallow air that ends up as gas later on.

As always, if your discomfort or bloating is chronic or painful, you should consult your physician to rule out a serious medical digestive disorder. But if it’s just water retention or gas, following these tips should help you beat the bloat in 2016!

UP NEXT: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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LYCOPENE 101: HOW WATERMELON CAN HELP YOU GET MORE OUT OF THIS POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT

February 17th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

If you want to stay healthy and feel your best (and who doesn’t?), you might want to include more lycopene-rich foods — like watermelon — in your daily diet.
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What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is one of hundreds of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables (beta carotene is the most well-known). Lycopene is the pigment that makes many fruits and veggies a rich and vibrant red. While tomatoes have gotten the most press when it comes to their lycopene content, you might be surprised to hear that watermelon is also a source of lycopene, with 15 to 20 milligrams for every two-cup serving.

Why Do We Need It?

Adopting a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the best things a person can do to stay healthy, maintain a healthy weight, and lower disease risk. Adding lycopene-rich foods, like watermelon, to that mix is one way to reach that goal. Granted, lycopene cannot be converted to vitamin A like its cousin beta carotene, but it is a powerful antioxidant. This is just one of the reasons why it has been studied to identify its role in health promotion and disease prevention.

How Much Lycopene Do You Need?

Like all of the carotenoids in foods, the jury is still out on the exact amount of lycopene you need for health and possible disease prevention. What is known is that because this antioxidant-rich compound is fat-soluble, you can greatly improve its absorption by adding a little fat to any meal that contains a lycopene-rich fruit or vegetable. For example, one study found that adding avocado to salsa boosts lycopene absorption more than four-fold!

Here a few examples of how you can combine watermelon and certain healthy fat foods:

• drizzle a little olive oil on a watermelon and spinach salad
• snack on watermelon and low-fat (rather than fat-free) yogurt
• add a slice of watermelon to a salmon fillet sandwich
• add watermelon to chicken or shrimp kabobs
• snack on watermelon slices and pistachios

One thing is for sure: You can’t go wrong by adding colorful produce, like watermelon, to your diet. The results are good for your health today and tomorrow!

UP NEXT: An interview with a watermelon carver

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A FEW MORE REASONS TO EAT WATERMELON (AS IF YOU NEEDED THEM)

June 8th, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

Everyone knows watermelon is one of the tastiest fruits available, but did you know that the sweet fruit contains the alphabet of vitamins (including some vitamins I didn’t even know existed)?

I did some reading about this over the years and decided to compile a snapshot of the nutritional benefits here. For instance, did you know that just one cup of watermelon meets 20 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C? Or that the same cup contains 18 percent of vitamin A, 2 percent iron and even 1 percent calcium. You’ll also find potassium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate. The list goes on and on, but what you won’t find is a lot of sodium or any saturated fat.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cubed watermelon in the fridge with my name on it. (No seriously, I do. Where I work, if you don’t put your name on your food, it has a way of mysteriously “disappearing.”)

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HAVE A (HEALTHY) HEART

February 2nd, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

heartmonthFebruary is National Heart Health Month. It’s odd that our shortest month was chosen as the one to raise awareness for our biggest health issue, but 28 days is better than nothing, I guess. Could it have something to do with Valentine’s Day being observed in February? I doubt it, but it’s a good theory.

There’s no shortage of facts and statistic about heart health and why it’s important for everyone to learn more about their ticker (for themselves and their loved ones), but the statistic that drives the point home for me is that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States among men and women.

There are a lot of things you can do to create a healthier heart – eat right, exercise, educate yourself about your heart – and I won’t get into all of them here (I’ll let the American Heart Association website do that), but I would like to remind everyone about the heart healthy benefits of fruit and vegetables including watermelon. Actually, I’ll let the National Watermelon Promotion Board do that, too. The National Watermelon Promotion Board has a page on their website about watermelon and heart health that lists the following facts:

1. Watermelon consumption increases free arginine, which can help to maintain cardiovascular function.

2. Eating watermelon can help to maintain cardiovascular health.

3. Watermelon has amino acids, which can help maintain blood flow and heart health.

There you have it. Three more very compelling reasons to add watermelon to your grocery list. So how will you observe National Heart Health Month? I  might suggest starting with a trip to your local grocery store’s produce aisle.

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DID YOU KNOW: WATERMELONS ARE HEALTHIER WHEN WARM

September 29th, 2009 by The Watermelon Guy

Watermelon4-1A friend forwarded me the following nugget of information the other day. Just when you think you know everything there is to know about watermelon, you learn something like this.

It’s not necessarily a new revelation (though it is to me), but scientists from the USDA Agricultural Research Service have found that eating watermelon stored and served room temperature is healthier than eating chilled watermelon.

The USDA team found that the amount of the antioxidant lycopene, which is already found in watermelon in great quantities, increased between 10 and 20 percent in room temperature watermelons. They also found that the vitamin A-rich antioxidant beta carotene doubled in warmer watermelons.

Now I don’t know about you, but almost nothing beats a nice, cold slice of watermelon or bowl of watermelon cubes, and I’m not in a hurry to take my watermelon out of the fridge. After all, those health benefits are good, but even when it’s cold, watermelon still contains plenty of lycopene and beta carotene. But if you’re anxious to get more vitamins out of your diet, it’s definitely something worth considering!

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