Watermelon: 9 healthy reasons to eat this ultimate summer food

There aren't many that can think of a reason not to eat watermelon on a hot summer day or as dessert at a family outing. But besides being a tasty snack, watermelon is a treasure for the health-conscious.

Sure, watermelon tastes good. (You know, real watermelon, not any of that awful watermelon-flavored stuff.) And it is fun to eat, being one of the foods where you're allowed to get messy. But the large fruit is also quite healthy for you. In fact, there are several benefits one can derive from sitting down and eating a wedge of watermelon or a bowl of watermelon chunks.

Here is some of the fruit's healthy qualities built around a list compiled by Amanda Fiegl at National Geographic:

1. L-citruline: Watermelon contains an abundance of an amino acid called L-citruline. This is converted by the human body into L-carnitine, which plays a major role in relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation, thereby improving overall cardiovascular health.

2. Alleviates high blood pressure: Studies have shown that watermelon extract supplements helped alleviate high blood pressure in obese, middle-aged men.

3. Diuretic: Watermelon is a natural diuretic (as if the name isn't a straightforward giveaway) and good for hydration (because, as the name suggests, it is 90 percent water). This, of course, could eventually lead to the natural necessity of ridding oneself of excess water as well.

4. Natural Viagra: In the area of improved circulation, one study has found that watermelon has Viagra-like effects where increased circulation is a necessity. The study also indicated that the fruit might also have an effect on the libido, making it a two-for-one pre-romantic appetizer.

5. Vitamin and mineral rich: The body needs all sorts of vitamins and minerals to function. Watermelon provides several, but is heavy in vitamins A and C. It also contains a fair amount of potassium, which could be instrumental in alleviating hypertension and perhaps even stroke.

6. Low in calories: A cup of watermelon contains about 80 calories.

7. Low fat: According to Nutrition Data, the big green fruit has almost no fat per serving, so...

8: Low cholesterol: For those conscious of their cholesterol intake, watermelon contains no measurable cholesterol in a single serving.

9. Lycopene: Watermelon contains lycopene, an antioxidant that could possibly be a cancer combatant. One study from Queensland University of Technology in Australia indicated that lycopene could be an important preventive and source of treatment for prostate cancer.

Not bad for a berry, huh? (Oh, yeah, that is correct. Watermelons are berries with exceptionally thick skins or rinds.)

(Read: Add Colorful Foods To Your Diet To Boost Your Immune System)

Just remember: When pushing a wedge of watermelon into your face at that summer picnic, indulging in a piece of the sweet fruit isn't bad for you. Not at all.

(photo credit: Jack Keene, Creative Commons)