Watermelon is a refreshing and delicious fruit enjoyed for thousands of years. Its sweet and juicy flavor makes it the perfect treat to beat the summer heat. But did you know that watermelon is tasty and packed with nutrients that can benefit your health? In this article, we’ll explore nine 14 amazing health benefits of watermelon you should know.
14 Amazing Health Benefits of Watermelon
1. Packed with Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds
Watermelon is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. It contains potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C while being relatively low in calories.
In a one-cup serving of raw, diced watermelon, you’ll find just 46 calories. It’s also a great source of citrulline, an amino acid that may enhance exercise performance.
Watermelon’s impressive nutrient profile includes antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E.
These compounds play a vital role in combating free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm your cells and contribute to various diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
2. May Have Anticancer Effects
Watermelon contains plant compounds, including lycopene and cucurbitacin E, with potential anticancer effects.
Research suggests that lycopene intake may be associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, such as prostate and colorectal cancers.
Lycopene lowers insulin-like growth factor (IGF) levels, a hormone that promotes uncontrolled cell division, a hallmark of cancer development.
Similarly, cucurbitacin E may inhibit tumor growth by inducing autophagy, eliminating damaged cells. While these findings are promising, further human studies are needed to establish the full extent of watermelon’s anticancer properties.
3. Helps You Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial for the proper functioning of your body. Adequate hydration is necessary to regulate body temperature, support organ function, and maintain alertness.
Watermelon, with its high water content of 92%, is an excellent choice to keep you hydrated. It provides your body with the water it needs to function optimally.
Additionally, watermelon has a low-calorie density, meaning it contains very few calories relative to weight. This makes it a smart choice for weight management as it keeps you feeling full for longer periods.
4. May Improve Heart Health
Watermelon offers several nutrients that can support heart health. Heart disease is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Lycopene, present in watermelon, may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent oxidative damage associated with high cholesterol levels.
Another heart-healthy component of watermelon is citrulline, an amino acid that increases the production of nitric oxide in the body.
Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure. Watermelon’s magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C further contribute to its heart-protective effects.
5. May Reduce Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Chronic inflammation is a crucial driver of many diseases. Watermelon’s combination of antioxidants, lycopene, and vitamin C can help lower inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.
Studies on rats have shown that watermelon powder supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory markers compared to a control group.
Additionally, a study involving 31 individuals with obesity and high inflammatory markers found that vitamin C supplementation, like that found in watermelon, significantly decreased inflammatory markers.
The antioxidant properties of lycopene found in watermelon may also delay the onset and progression of conditions like Alzheimer’s.
6. May Aid Skin Health
Watermelon’s high content of vitamins A and C contributes to its potential benefits for skin health. Vitamin C, whether consumed or applied topically, supports the production of collagen, a protein responsible for maintaining skin elasticity and hair strength.
Increasing vitamin C intake through food or supplements may decrease the likelihood of developing wrinkles and dry skin.
Vitamin A is also crucial for healthy skin, as it aids in producing and repairing skin cells. Research has shown that animals deficient in vitamin A experience poorer wound healing.
7. May Improve Digestion: Support a Healthy Gut
Watermelon’s high water content and small amount of fiber contribute to its potential to improve digestion. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements, while adequate water intake helps move waste efficiently through the digestive tract.
A survey involving thousands of adults found that low fluid and fiber intakes were associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing constipation.
Although other factors may contribute to digestive health, incorporating watermelon into your diet can support regularity and promote a healthy gut.
8. Supports Kidney Health: Maintain Optimal Function
Watermelon’s high water content and natural diuretic properties benefit kidney health. Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining proper kidney function and preventing the formation of kidney stones.
The great water content in watermelon helps flush out toxins and waste products from the kidneys, promoting their optimal functioning.
Additionally, watermelon is a source of potassium. This mineral plays a vital role in kidney health by regulating fluid balance and preventing the formation of kidney stones.
9. Boosts Immune System: Strengthen Your Defenses
Watermelon’s rich vitamin C content contributes to a strengthened immune system. Vitamin C is known for supporting immune function and fighting off infections.
Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin C, which can be obtained from watermelon, helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are essential for immune defense.
Including watermelon in your diet can boost your immune system, helping you stay healthy and ward off illnesses.
6. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration: Protect Your Eyesight
Watermelon’s lycopene compound may benefit eye health, particularly in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is a common eye condition that can lead to vision loss in older adults. Lycopene’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are believed to contribute to its potential role in preventing and inhibiting AMD.
A test-tube study that treated eye cells with lycopene showed a decrease in the capacity of inflammatory markers to damage cells.
While further human research is necessary, incorporating watermelon into your diet can provide potential benefits for maintaining healthy eyesight.
10. It May Relieve Muscle Soreness
Watermelon contains citrulline, an amino acid that may improve exercise performance and reduce muscle soreness.
Citrulline is available both in watermelon itself and as a supplement. Research indicates that regular citrulline intake can enhance aerobic performance by increasing the body’s production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and reduce the workload on the heart.
A study comparing watermelon juice with citrulline supplementation resulted in less muscle soreness and faster heart rate recovery after exercise. However, more studies are needed to understand watermelon’s effects on exercise recovery fully.
11. Enhances Eye Health: Maintain Optimal Vision
Watermelon contains essential nutrients that contribute to good eye health. Alongside lycopene, watermelon is a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining optimal vision and preventing night blindness. By including watermelon in your diet, you can ensure your eyes receive the necessary nutrients to support their health and function.
13. Supports Bone Health: Keep Your Bones Strong
Watermelon contains essential minerals like calcium and magnesium for maintaining strong and healthy bones.
Calcium is well-known for its role in bone formation and preventing osteoporosis, while magnesium contributes to bone density and strength.
Consuming watermelon as part of a balanced diet can help ensure an adequate intake of these bone-supporting minerals, promoting long-term skeletal health.
14. Improves Mood and Mental Health: Enjoy the Feel-Good Fruit
Watermelon’s natural sweetness and high water content make it a refreshing and enjoyable fruit to consume.
Additionally, the presence of vitamins and antioxidants in watermelon may contribute to improved mood and mental well-being. Vitamin C, in particular, is known for its potential to reduce stress and boost mood.
Adding watermelon to your diet can be a simple and delicious way to uplift your spirits and promote overall mental health.
How to Incorporate Watermelon in Your Diet?
Here are some creative and delicious ways to incorporate watermelon into your meals and snacks:
1. Fresh Fruit Salad: Create a refreshing fruit salad by combining diced watermelon with other seasonal fruits like berries, oranges, and pineapple. Toss in some fresh mint leaves and a squeeze of lime juice for an extra zing.
2. Watermelon Smoothie: Blend chunks of watermelon with Greek yogurt, a splash of coconut water, and a handful of spinach or kale for a nutritious and hydrating smoothie. Add a touch of honey or a squeeze of lemon for added sweetness or acidity.
3. Grilled Watermelon: Experience the unique flavor profile of grilled watermelon. Slice watermelon into thick wedges, brush them lightly with olive oil, and grill for a few minutes on each side until grill marks appear. Serve as a side dish or top with crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a savory-sweet appetizer.
4. Watermelon Salsa: Combine diced watermelon with chopped cucumber, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice to create a refreshing and vibrant salsa. Enjoy it with tortilla chips, as a topping for grilled fish or chicken, or as a filling for tacos or wraps.
5. Watermelon Gazpacho: Blend watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, and a splash of balsamic vinegar to create a chilled and refreshing gazpacho soup. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs like basil or mint. Serve cold as a light appetizer or a cooling summer soup.
6. Watermelon Skewers: Thread watermelon cubes, along with other fruits like grapes, strawberries, and melon, onto skewers for a colorful and nutritious snack. Drizzle with a little honey or sprinkle with Tajín seasoning for a spicy-sweet twist.
Watermelon is a refreshing and delicious fruit and a valuable addition to a healthy diet. Its high water content, along with an array of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, offers numerous health benefits.