Watermelon & Diabetes: It’s Not Off Limits

fresh watermelonWho doesn’t love a cool refreshing slice of watermelon during the warm summer months? Many people with diabetes think watermelon is off limits because it’s “too sweet” and is loaded with sugar. It’s true that all fruit contains sugar and some more than others, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid fruit.

“If you have diabetes and enjoy watermelon, you can incorporate it into your diet,” says New York-based registered dietitian Susan Weiner, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life.

Experts agree that there’s more to watermelon than good taste. In fact, watermelon is often referred to as a nutrient powerhouse. Like most fruit, watermelon is naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Watermelon is packed with many essential nutrients including potassium, vitamin C, folate (folic acid) and dietary fiber.

Weiner says, “Fiber can help keep you fuller longer, which may help you eat less, and aide in weight loss. Fiber can also help regulate your digestive tract and prevent constipation.”

What sets watermelon apart from other fruit is lycopene – the pigment that gives watermelon its pinkish color. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant linked to many health benefits. “Studies show lycopene may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other circulatory disorders such as atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries,” says Weiner. Other studies suggest lycopene may help reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.