Nothing tastes like summer like a crisp, juicy and refreshing slice of watermelon. It’s a staple at backyard barbecues and well stocked at local farmers markets this time of year. Watermelon – which can actually be considered a fruit or a vegetable, depending on the National Office for the Promotion of Watermelon – is incredibly nutritious, too.
Nutritionists say watermelon is low in calories and sugar and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making it a great addition to a healthy diet. Plus, it’s fun to eat! “Eating watermelon makes me feel carefreelike a kid again on a summer picnic enjoying the outdoors with the people who mean the most to me,” says Kris SolidMS, RDSenior Director of Nutrition Communications at International Food Information Council.
Here’s a look at some of the best health benefits of watermelon, according to nutritionists.
Nutrition Facts Of Watermelon
According to United States Department of Agriculture1 cup of watermelon (152 g) contains:
- Calories: 45.6
- Fat: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 1.52mg
- Carbohydrates: 11.5g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Vitamin C: 12.3mg
- Potassium: 170mg
- Calcium: 10mg
- Vitamin A: 865 IU
- Lycopene: 6,890 micrograms
Is it okay to eat watermelon every day?
Only about 10% of Americans eat the recommended two cups of fruit each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As it is low in calories and sugar, you can safely eat several servings of watermelon each day doubting the long-term dietary impact – but Sollid says it’s better for your dietary health to try to vary the types of fruit you eat. Different fruits contain different nutrients, so eating a variety will ensure your body has everything it needs.
It is indeed possible to eat too much anythingincluding watermelon, add Grace DerochaRDN, CDCESnational spokesperson for Nutrition and Dietetics Academy. While it might be tempting to work half or more of a whole watermelon in one sitting on a hot summer afternoon, experts like Derocha say it’s best to eat one cup at a time like general recommendation, rather than a whole fruit.
Watermelon is considered a high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) fruit, i.e. it contains short-chain sugars which some people have trouble digestingsays Derocha, so it “may cause bloating or discomfort when consumed in large amounts.”
People with diabetes or who may need count their carb servings should also be careful about their watermelon intake, she adds. Eating too much fruit could introduce too much sugar to your diet, causing blood sugar fluctuationswhich can be risky for people with diabetes.
What are the health benefits of watermelon?
“Watermelon is a naturally low-calorie package,” says Christina Meyer JaxRDN, LDNholder of the Standard Process nutrition chair and assistant professor at Northwestern University of Health Sciences. “It provides key antioxidant nutrients that support disease prevention and overall well-being.”
Here are 11 health benefits of watermelon:
1) It contains essential nutrients
just 46 calories per cup, watermelon packs a punch when it comes to nutrients. It contains about 15% of your daily vitamin C needsplus a host of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamins A and B6, says Sollid.
Vitamin C boosts your immune system and helps the body absorb iron, Derocha says, while vitamin A is crucial for skin and eye health. Watermelon is also rich in potassium, which works to lower blood pressure and supports nerve function, and vitamin B6, which helps the body break down the proteins you eat and also boosts the immune system and nerve function.
2) It offers a big dose of lycopene
Lycopene is a natural compound found in watermelon and other fruits and vegetables that has antioxidant properties. The substance is also what gives watermelon its red color; but beyond its tint, lycopene is also good for you. Meyer-Jax says it has been shown reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders. Lycopene works to protect your cells from damage, says Sollid, and research suggests it may have hypotensive effects when consumed regularly through dietary means.
3) Watermelon helps you stay hydrated
Watermelon is more than 90% water. “As the name suggests, watermelon can keep you hydrated,” says Derocha. “We get 80% of hydration from what we drink and 20% from what we eat; watermelon can certainly help with this balanced intake.”
Meyer-Jax recommends eating watermelon sprinkled with a little salt after a workout or when you’ve been sweating for a long time. “The combination of carbs and salt is great for replenishing lost electrolytes and carbohydrate stores,” she says.
4) It contributes to good digestion
Watermelon contains a high water content and a small amount of fiber. “Both are essential for ensure good digestion,Meyer-Jax says. Fiber adds bulk to your bowel movements and keeps you regular, while water helps move waste through your digestive system.
5) It could help with weight management
Choosing watermelon over another sugary snack can help you feel full longer, says Meyer-Jax. Limited research published in the journal Nutrients in 2019 found that subjects considered overweight or clinically obese who ate watermelon instead of low-fat cookies experienced greater satiety, for example. Daily consumption of watermelon was associated with a decrease in the body weight of the subjectsbody mass index, blood pressure and waist circumference.
6) It May Improve Heart Health
To research shows that the consumption of foods containing lycopene can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension suggested a link between the fruit and heart disease, as research has suggested that watermelon extract can reduce blood pressure over a prolonged period. “The authors suggested that L-citrulline and L-arginine — two of the antioxidants in watermelon — may improve artery function,” Derocha suggests.
7) It may help reduce the risk of cancer
Lycopene found in watermelon can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals (the unstable molecules the body naturally produces that can cause disease) and the body’s ability to fight off their effects. Chronic inflammation can increase your risk of certain diseases, including cancer, and to research shows that lycopene has the potential to reduce inflammation and prevent the growth of cancer cells, reducing your risk of contracting these diseases. Studies have shown that increasing your intake of lycopene can reduce your risk of cancers of the digestive tract and Prostate cancer.
8) Watermelon can help reduce inflammation
A specific combination of antioxidants, lycopene and vitamin C, found in watermelon can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage over time, Derocha says. Inflammation may cause swelling, pain, or redness of the skin for those who experience it. And chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases, including cancer, asthma, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
9) It’s good for the skin
“Watermelon’s water and vitamins A, B6, and C help keep your skin soft, smooth, and supple,” says Derocha. Vitamin C boosts collagen production, which improves skin elasticity and blood flow to the skin. And vitamin A helps repair skin cellspreventing dry, flaky skin, while vitamin B6 helps fight breakouts.
Lycopene may play a role in protecting your skin from the sun, adds Derocha, which reduces the risk of sunburn. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen, she points out; it is crucial to apply your choice of SPF regularly.
10) It can relieve sore muscles
A small study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that athletes who drank watermelon juice saw reduced muscle pain for up to 24 hours. The juice also helped lower their recovery heart rate. Researchers have linked the ability of watermelon juice to relieve sore muscles to its L-citrulline content, which is an amino acid that helps reduce muscle damage. Although scientists need more concrete evidence to confirm the extent of this benefit, this link might inspire you to consider adding watermelon juice to your post-workout routine.
11) Watermelon seeds and rind are also nutritious
When eating fresh watermelon, most people stick with the red or pink flesh. But you can also eat the bark and seeds, as they offer their own holistic health benefits.
Crusts are lower in sugar and richer in fiber than the flesh of a watermelon, says Meyer-Jax, “when eaten with the rest of the melon, it helps slow the absorption of sugar in the gut and smooths the rise in blood sugar.” Watermelon rinds also contain L-citrullinewhich can reduce blood pressure and improve athletic performance.
Watermelon seeds, which can be eaten raw or dried, are rich in magnesium – which Derocha says plays a key role in energy production, nerve function, DNA and protein synthesis, and blood pressure regulation. They also contain folate, which may reduce the risk of cancer and depression. The seeds are good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which protect against heart attacks and strokes and lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
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