People often think of watermelon as a juicy, sweet treat to keep them cool and hydrated in the summertime. It’s a staple at most summer BBQ’s, breakfast buffets at hotels, and farmer’s markets, to name a few. While it is delicious and thirst-quenching, there are so many benefits of watermelon that are unknown to most people.
How to Know When A Watermelon is Ripe
“Today, it’s estimated that there are actually more than 1,200 different cultivars of watermelon species grown around the world, including the lanatus watermelon, crimson sweet watermelon and jubilee watermelon.” – Dr. Axe
Eating watermelon is no fun if you purchase one that is either overripe or not ripe enough, so to know when it’s ready, look for a melon with a yellow or cream color on the bottom. Also, make sure to pick up the melon to make sure its dense for its size, because this means the juices have been produced and it’s ready for eating.
How to Add it To Your Diet
Since watermelon is so low in calories, you can add it to juices or smoothies for a delicious low-calorie treat. You can also add some slices to water or freeze it in a popsicle mold for a homemade, healthy frozen treat. You can add it to salads, desserts, and fruit cups, and even sprinkle some salt on it to enjoy contrasting flavors. Or, just cut up a couple slices and enjoy alongside a healthy breakfast or bring it to work with you for a tasty snack.
Now that you know a bit about choosing the best watermelon and ways to add it to your diet, we’ll go over some little known facts about where watermelon comes from and the nutrients it contains. Then, we’ll dive into the health benefits of watermelon.
Where Does Watermelon Come From?
The watermelon plant originates from southern Africa; however, the sweet fruit we eat today was much bitterer in the past due to the presence of a compound called cucurbitacin.
Many varieties of watermelon once grew abundantly across Africa. Now, we can grow it in a variety of climates across the world, but it’s interesting to know that it originated in a place most of us consider largely inhospitable and barren.
Nutrition from Eating Watermelon
One cup of diced watermelon contains approximately:
- 46 calories
- 11.5 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram protein
- 0.2 grams fat
- 0.6 grams dietary fiber
- 12.3 milligrams vitamin C (21 percent DV)
- 865 IUs vitamin A (17 percent DV)
- 170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
- 15.2 milligrams magnesium(4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams thiamine (3 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams copper (3 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams manganese (3 percent DV)
In addition to the abundance of vitamins and minerals listed above, watermelons contain trace amounts of riboflavin, iron and phosphorus. Now that we’ve gone over where watermelon originated and the nutrition information, let’s get into what watermelon can do for your health.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Watermelon
1. Boosts the Immune System
Studies show eating watermelon can increase levels of the amino acid arginine that’s used for the synthesis of nitric oxide, which plays an important role in immune functions and cardiovascular health.
Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is both an antioxidant and immune booster. Antioxidants help the body fight free radicals and reduce inflammation, which keeps cells healthy and protects against oxidative damage.
2. Improves Heart Health
Watermelon contains small amounts of both potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that help keep your heart functioning properly. Studies show that increasing potassium intake helps to lower blood pressure and reduce dying from cardiovascular disease. Magnesium helps the body fend off stress and could prevent heart disease.
Lycopene, one of the carotenoids found in watermelon, benefits heart health by lowering inflammation and boosting blood lipid levels. Studies have shown that eating watermelon can help to reduce arterial stiffness and aortic systolic blood pressure in obese postmenopausal women with hypertension.
3. Reduces Pain and Muscle Soreness
One of the benefits of watermelon is that it alleviates muscle aches and pains in athletes. In one study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers studied athletes who supplemented with watermelon juice. After 24 hours of drinking the juice, athletes experienced reduced recovery heart rate and muscle soreness.
In addition to watermelon’s ability to reduce pain, the abundant amount of Vitamin C present in watermelon helps protect cartilage and bones, repairs tendons and ligaments, and helps heal wounds faster. The potassium and magnesium in watermelon also help heal muscles and reduce pain. Potassium helps to prevent muscle cramps after exercise and speeds up the healing process following an injury.
4. Eating Watermelon May Prevent Kidney Stones
The potassium found in fruits and vegetables such as watermelon helps remove waste from the blood and eliminate toxins, which could help prevent kidney stones. One of the other benefits of watermelon is that it’s a natural diuretic, which means it increases urine production to move waste out of the body. Caffeine and alcohol are also natural diuretics, but they put stress on the kidneys, making them a less-than-ideal choice if your goal is detoxification.
This brings us to our next point: detoxing the body.
5. Helps Detox the Body
As you might already know, watermelon is chockful of water, which would explain its name! Watermelon is made up of about 91% water, which can help to remove toxins from the body and prevent bloating. Potassium and magnesium are two electrolytes present in watermelon that also aid in the detoxification process.
Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure and water retention, which allows more oxygen into the body. Magnesium helps prevent bloating and is involved in over 600 cellular functions, making it a very important nutrient for the body. It can improve sleep quality and reduce depression, which will aid in the detoxification process.
6. Eating Watermelon May Help Prevent Cancer
Among the benefits of watermelon is that it can help prevent cancer due to the high amount of antioxidants present. Lycopene, one of the main carotenoids found in watermelon, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, according to some studies. This same carotenoid helps to keep cell membranes strong, which prevents toxins from causing cell mutation.
The high amounts of both Vitamin C and A can help reduce cancer risk as well, making watermelon the perfect fruit to add to your diet.
7. Keeps Skin Healthy
Natural food from the Earth, such as watermelon, adds oxygen to our cells and keeps our bodies functioning properly. Watermelon, in particular, contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals that may cause cancer and keep the skin looking young and healthy. Also, watermelon’s high water content will hydrate your skin, making it clear and vibrant.
Vitamin C in watermelon will help your skin because it boosts collagen production and protects the skin against sun damage. This makes it perfect to eat during the summer when UV rays are the strongest.
8. Boosts Eye Health
Another of the benefits of watermelon is that it will give you a healthy dose of eye-protecting nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown that a Vitamin A deficiency can lead to eye diseases such as macular degeneration, which occurs when the cornea thickens and can lead to eventual blindness.