9 Surprising Health Benefits of Watermelon
Watermelon is not only an excellent thirst-quencher, but also provides many essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Native to Africa, watermelon is thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt over 5,000 years ago, and from there it was introduced to the Mediterranean region. It’s then brought to India and went to China via India sometime between the 10th and 12th century. From China, it then spread to Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.
Watermelons have a smooth, thick exterior rind with dark-green stripes. They can be round or oval in shape and weigh from a few pounds to over 100 pounds. The inner edible flesh is mostly red in color but can also come in orange, yellow or white depending upon the cultivar type. Near its core, numerous small black seeds embed in the middle-third portion of the flesh. Its flesh has a crisp, juicy texture and its taste somewhat described as plain-sweet water.
Watermelons are usually eaten fresh or squeezed into juice. Watermelon juice can be blended with other fruit juices or made into wine.
In addition to the flesh of watermelon, the rind and seeds can be eaten as well. Watermelon rind can be used for making watermelon pickles, and the seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds.
Watermelon is mostly water – about 92 percent – but this juicy fruit is soaked with essential nutrients. It has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as potassium, magnesium, and lycopene – a potent antioxidant that gives the fruit its characteristic red color. This refreshing fruit is also fat-free and low in calories.
Here is the nutritional information for one cup (152 g) of diced watermelon :
- Calories: 45.6
- Water: 139 g
- Sugars: 9.4 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Protein: 0.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.5 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Vitamin A: 865 IU
- Vitamin C: 12.3 mg
Health Benefits of Watermelon
1. Helps you stay hydrated
Since watermelon contains high water content – 92 percent water, it can help to replenish your body fluids. It also helps in providing a cooling effect in your body. So, watermelon is the best refreshing snack option during the hot summer season.
2. Prevents heart disease
The high levels of lycopene in watermelons are very effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extracts helped lower blood pressure in obese adults .
Another study published in Menopause found that postmenopausal women who took watermelon extract for six weeks saw decreased blood pressure and arterial stiffness compared to those who did not take watermelon extract .
3. Reduces cancer risk
Several studies have linked lycopene-rich diets with lower risks of certain cancers .
A study conducted by Harvard University found that men who ate lycopene-rich diets had a lower risk of developing certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer.
One study suggests that women who consumed diets high in lycopene had a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.
4. Supports immune function
Watermelons contain vitamin C, which can boost your immune system and shorten the symptoms of illnesses, including the common cold. Watermelon also provides vitamin B6 and glutathione. The body needs these vitamins and antioxidant for proper immune function.
5. Maintains eye health
Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision. It helps produce the pigments in the retina of the eye and protects against age-related macular degeneration as well as prevents night blindness.
6. Good for skin
Watermelons are great for your skin too. The vitamins A and C found in watermelon can help protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals and keep your skin healthy.
Studies have shown that vitamin C may help promote healthy skin, including reducing the risk of age-related damage .
7. Fights inflammation
Being a rich source of antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C, watermelon may help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
For example, In a 2015 study performed in rats, it was found that watermelon-fed rats had lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and less oxidative stress than the control group .
In an earlier study, lycopene-rich foods were shown to be effective in lowering inflammation and oxidative stress .
8. Prevents kidney stones
Watermelon is a natural diuretic which means it helps to increase urine production to move waste out of the body. It also stimulates the functioning of the kidneys and helps to diminish the risk of kidney stones.
9. Aids in weight loss
Watermelon is low in calories and consists of mostly water, so snacking on this juicy fruit will give you a feeling of fullness, helping curb your appetite.
How to Store Watermelon
You can store whole watermelons in a cool dark place and they will remain fresh for about 2 weeks. But if your watermelon is already fully ripe when you bring it home, it should be eaten within 3 days, otherwise it may start to spoil within 3 or 4 days.
Sliced or cut watermelons should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Since watermelon is mostly water, the liquid begins leaving the flesh soon after cutting and continues to leave as it ages.
Is It Good to Eat Watermelon Everyday?
Watermelons should cause no serious side effects if eaten in reasonable amounts. However, if you eat too many watermelons daily, you may experience problems from having too much potassium or lycopene.
Excessive amounts of potassium can lead to weakness, paralysis, irregular heartbeat, or even a heart attack. An excess of lycopene is also of concern for healthy people, because it can lead to flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting in the long run.
It is advised that you consume no more than two cups of watermelon a day.
Is It Okay to Eat Watermelon at Night?
While there is no scientific proof that eating watermelon at night can be harmful to your health. But consuming watermelon at night can cause digestive problems. Our digestive system works much slower at night than during the day and watermelon is difficult to digest, so this lack of digestion will lead to an upset stomach the next day.
Watermelons also contain a huge percentage of water which can force you to go to the toilet continuously at night, leading to poor sleep. Moreover, it contain a pretty high amount of sugar, which may promote weight gain.