9 Amazing benefits of watermelon(#3 and #8 are surprising)
As the name rightly tells, ‘Watermelon’ is filled with wonder water. How many articles have you read about the benefits of water? How many on the benefits of fruits? So imagine how many amazing benefits this water fruit will offer! Watermelon is loaded with so many nutrients and anti-oxidants, making it the right pick for a healthy lifestyle. Let’s begin with the history of this awesome fruit to understand its benefits better.
Watermelon, or citrullus lanatus, is thought to be native to southern Africa. Over time, cultivation of the plants moved northwards into the Nile Valley, and eventually to India. By the 10th century, watermelon was being grown in China, which remains the largest producer of watermelon in the world to this day.
Soon after, crops came up from Africa to Italy and Spain and were finally brought to the Americas in the late 1500s by European colonists. Today, over 100 million metric tons of watermelon are produced worldwide each year, and the plants are cultivated on five continents.
How Watermelon Grows
Watermelon is a flowering plant that grows on long vines on the ground. The plants require a long growing season—80 or more days—and they also require warm ground temperatures (80 degrees Fahrenheit) for the entire growth period. The vines can grow up to 20 feet in length, so be sure you have ample space before planting watermelon seeds!
There are over 1,200 known varieties of watermelon plants in the world. Some produce very small fruit (> 1kg), while others can produce fruit that weighs over 200 pounds! The flesh can be any of a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, pink, and bright red. Some varieties contain hard black seeds, while others are “seedless” and contain only soft digestible white seeds.
Here are a few lesser-known facts about watermelon:
- Paintings of an ancient variety of watermelon, as well as several watermelon seeds, have been found in King Tut’s tomb. What is watermelon good for in a tomb? Ancient Egyptians believed the high water content would keep the dead energized and hydrated during their long journey to the afterlife.
- Watermelons natur ally take an oblong shape while growing, but in Japan, a certain variety is cultivated inside a glass box that forms the fruit into a square shape as it grows. This way, the fruit fits more easily into small refrigerators
- The town of Luling, Texas, a small town between Austin and San Antonio, is famous for its annual watermelon festival, Watermelon Thump. The best event? A watermelon seed spitting contest!
- Watermelon is one of the few plants out there that is widely considered to be both a fruit and a vegetable. So, whether you think it’s one or the other, you’re right!
Watermelon is such a sweet, refreshing treat; people often wonder: Is watermelon healthy? The answer is yes! Watermelon’s nutritional value is quite incredible, especially when you consider that a watermelon is 92% water. Believe it or not, there is even 1g of protein in watermelon. Also noteworthy is the fact that watermelon has more lycopene per serving than any other produce, including tomatoes.
Here are some important watermelon nutrition facts and benefits:
Serving size: 2 cups, diced
Vitamin and Mineral Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
Vitamin A: 30%
Vitamin C: 25%
Health Benefits of Watermelon
1. Contains Antioxidants and Provides Immune Support
The benefits of watermelon are plentiful, and you’ll be amazed to find out what vitamins are in watermelon. For a long time, watermelon was ignored by nutritionists as a “health food,” mainly because of its high water content, but it packs a powerful antioxidant punch.
Watermelon contains high amounts of vitamin A, which supports eye and skin health and can help prevent eye disorders like macular degeneration. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is a known immune booster that prevents scurvy and periodontal (gum) disease. Vitamin C can even promote hair growth due to its ability to repair cells and keep them strong! Watermelon also contains several B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6), which are helpful in improving immune function, mood, and sleep.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure, Boosts Heart Health, and Improves Circulation
The health benefits of watermelon also extend to the cardiac system. Watermelon is low in calories and contains no fat or cholesterol, making it an excellent choice for people who are trying to maintain a healthy weight. In addition to its benefits as a filling low-calorie food, watermelon contains citrulline and arginine, which are amino acids that promote healthy blood flow.
While it is not necessarily a cardiac disorder, erectile dysfunction is believed to be caused by a problem in the circulatory system, and research is currently underway to find out if the arginine in watermelon can help with this.
3. Reduces Insulin Resistance
While the sugar in watermelon is something to pay attention to, watermelon can actually help your body fight insulin resistance and diabetes. For one thing, watermelon tastes very sweet, making it a perfect addition to smoothies and other dishes so that you don’t feel the need to add extra sugar.
Also, there is some research suggesting that the amino acid arginine can play a role in glucose metabolism, making your body more efficient and less likely to become resistant to insulin.
4. Promotes Kidney Health and Cell Repair
Watermelon’s high water content makes it an excellent food for kidney health. Proper hydration keeps the kidneys flushed out and prevents toxins from building up. Additionally, watermelon contains both calcium and potassium, which are important for breaking down uric acid and thereby preventing kidney disease.
An added benefit of calcium and potassium is that they are both essential to cell health. These minerals prevent cell damage and can encourage repair of cells that may have been damaged by stress or toxin buildup.
5. Aids with Muscle Soreness and Exercise-Induced Asthma
After you exercise especially vigorously, your body goes through a recovery process, and it is believed that consuming watermelon after working out can aid this process in several ways.
First of all, your muscles release lactic acid during exercise, which is what gives you that feeling of soreness after a tough workout. The amino acid citrulline, found in watermelon, can help with lactic acid breakdown, bringing you relief from muscle soreness more quickly.
Additionally, exercise-induced asthma is a breathing disorder that affects many people. It is characterized by swelling of the bronchi in the lungs when exposed to the excess dry air that comes from heavy breathing during exercise. Currently, research is being done to find out if vitamin C, which is known for protecting immunity, might aid in preventing bronchial swelling.
6. Aids in Digestion, Supporting Weight Loss and Cancer Prevention
The high water content in watermelon is not just “empty filler.” That water has an important function and can have a huge impact on digestive health, which, in turn, can help with weight loss and even cancer prevention. After all, water keeps the bowels moving, which helps prevent weight gain and toxin buildup that can lead to cancer.
Fiber is the other magic ingredient for digestive health, and although nutritionists aren’t blown away by how much fiber is in watermelon, it’s not nothing. So, does watermelon have fiber? Yes. It has about 1g per serving.
Finally, watermelon also supports weight loss, and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent chronic diseases like hypertension and many forms of cancer. You’d be surprised by how many calories are in a watermelon serving—only 80! With its low calorie count and negligible fat content, there’s really nothing there that would make watermelon fattening.
7. Strengthens Muscles, Nerves, and Bones
Watermelon can be great for the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and this is mainly due to its mineral content. Because watermelon contains essential minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, it helps regulate electrolyte levels, which are essential for muscle and nerve function.
Research is still ongoing, but there is some evidence to suggest that the amino acid arginine found in watermelon might even aid in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy due to its ability to decrease the kind of chronic inflammation that is responsible for the disease.
When it comes to bones, it’s the lycopene in watermelon that really shines. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is believed to aid in mineral absorption, making it more likely that bone-strengthening calcium and magnesium will actually reach their targets. Lycopene also is uniquely qualified to break down the types of free radicals known to be responsible for the onset of osteoporosis.
8. Promotes Healthy Skin
Vitamins A and C are great for strengthening, conditioning, and healing the skin. Many skincare products contain these powerful vitamins, and they are both found in watermelon. Because they are also good for immune health, these vitamins also support the body in healing from minor wounds, cuts, scrapes, and burns.
The lycopene in watermelon can help with sun protection, and while you’ll still need sunscreen to fully prevent sunburn, eating watermelon in the summertime is a refreshing way to do some good for your skin. It has the added benefit of helping prevent heat-stroke by keeping you hydrated.
9. Reduces Inflammation and Acidity
Watermelon’s antioxidants and amino acids like citrulline and arginine do wonders for reducing inflammation everywhere in the body. This is essential for staving off chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Another important factor in reducing inflammation is maintaining an alkaline diet. Acid causes irritation and inflammation, especially in the digestive system, so eating alkaline foods can prevent this. If you’re wondering: Is watermelon acidic? The answer is no. Watermelon has a pH of 9.0, making it very alkaline.
How to Buy and Store
Stores often sell both cut and whole watermelon. When buying watermelon that is cut, choose fruit with a bright, vibrant color. If the watermelon is whole, you can assess ripeness by checking its weight. Ripe fruit has more water weight and will therefore be heavier.
Store watermelon in the refrigerator, whether whole or cut. If it is cut, make sure it is tightly wrapped to prevent oxidation and spoiling.
Adding more watermelon to your diet is fun! Simply eat it sliced or cubed as a snack, or dice some up and add it to your favorite salads. You can even add it to cooked savory dishes like tacos, sandwiches, and stir-fry.
For a refreshing beverage, try frozen watermelon lemonade. Heat ½ c. water and stir in ¾ c. sugar. Juice 2 lemons into the mixture. In a blender, combine 3 c. of cubed watermelon with a handful of blueberries or raspberries until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl to remove pulp. Combine the two liquid mixtures in a covered freezer container. Freeze until firm and scoopable with an ice cream scoop.
Watermelon is generally safe, and most people could never eat enough to cause a problem. That said, excessive watermelon consumption can lead to indigestion and bloating due to its lycopene content. It is recommended to eat it slowly so that you will notice if you start to feel overly full.
Another consideration is the sugar content of watermelon. While in moderation, it should be perfectly fine for an otherwise healthy person, individuals with diabetes or other blood sugar disorders should use caution. Watermelon is also not recommended for pregnant women for this reason. The high sugar content can cause gestational diabetes if eaten in large quantities.
Finally, there have been documented cases of watermelon allergy. If you’ve never eaten watermelon before, start with only a little at first so you will know if your body is having an allergic reaction.
Watermelon is delicious, refreshing, and even a little bit indulgent, due to its sweetness. But wow, is watermelon good for you. It’s easy to overlook because it seems like it’s just full of water, but that’s where many of its benefits come from! It’s the perfect snack for a hot summer day, as it will help you stay hydrated while also protecting your skin. All of its vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are an added bonus.
Best of all, watermelon is extremely low in calories and contains virtually no fat, making it a great addition to most diets. Plus, it’s so tasty, it feels like dessert!