Watermelons are one of the most refreshing and delicious snacks to enjoy on a hot summer day. Of course, most of us pick or spit out the seeds as we chow down. Whether we have lingering childhood fears about watermelons growing in our bellies (even though we logically know that’s impossible), or we’re just creatures of habit, it turns out we’re depriving ourselves of some helpful nutrients by avoiding those little bits.
According to the USDA, watermelon seeds are great sources of two particularly beneficial minerals: magnesium and iron.
The US Department of Health recommends that adult women get 320 grams of magnesium on a daily basis. It’s part of what turns food into energy and promotes muscle and nerve function. Magnesium is also great for lowering chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and easing anxiety or sleep problems.
A large handful (or about four ounces) of watermelon seeds contains 21 grams of the nutrient. Now, we aren’t saying you should spend all day eating them, but these seeds are clearly a good way to get a nice chunk of magnesium. You can also up your magnesium intake with things like magnesium supplements and sprays, but those probably won’t be quite as satisfying as a slice of watermelon with the seeds in.
As for iron, which is essential for blood health, physical growth, cell function, and brain development, the US Department of Health recommends just between 17 and 19 grams for women each day. A handful of watermelon seeds will give you a hefty 1.6 grams of iron to chip away at that daily amount. (Psst: Iron deficiency is also a big culprit when it comes to thinning hair, so any added boost will help with that, too).
Aside from carefully chewing the seeds while you eat watermelon, the Kitchn recommends roasting them up like you would pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a yummy snack all on their own!
We don’t know about you, but we’ll definitely think twice about tossing our watermelon seeds aside from here on out.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.