NEW ORLEANS -- We are getting into the summer, which just happens to be the season for one of many people's favorite treats: watermelon. And not only does it taste great, it is also one of the healthiest foods there is.

On a hot summer day few things quench a thirst better than a slice or two of watermelon, but it is more than just a sweet delightful thirst quencher. Watermelon is packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight destructive free radical molecules in the body that may cause, among other things, certain types of cancer.

It is also a rich source of vitamins C and A, which help boost the body's immunity system. It contains beta-carotene which helps maintain good eyesight, and the B vitamins necessary for energy production.

Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but watermelon can help you reach this goal. For a great summer spritzer, Julie Fortenberry, LDN, RD, Sports and Lifestyle Nutritionist for East Jefferson General Hospital's Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone, suggests adding a slice of watermelon and a splash of lemon or lime to water and decorating with a sprig of mint

Or it can be mixed up in a fruit salad with other healthy melons like cantaloupe and/or honeydew, plus other healthy summer fruits and berries. Watermelon is a great tasting treat that's good for you in so many ways. It doesn't get much better than that!

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