Watermelon is in season in the summer and is a great way to stay hydrated since it contains so much water. That isn’t the only benefit this fruit offers though. Read more below to learn about the many ways watermelon can help protect your health.
From Medical News Today;
Watermelon also contains antioxidants. These substances can help remove molecules known as free radicals, or reactive species, from the body. The body produces free radicals during natural processes, such as metabolism. They can also develop through smoking, air pollution, stress, and other environmental pressures.
The body can remove some free radicals naturally, but dietary antioxidants support this process.
Below are some of the ways antioxidants and other nutrients in watermelon may help protect a person’s health.
Studies have not confirmed that taking vitamin C supplements can help prevent asthma, but a diet that is rich in vitamin C may offer some protection.
In a 2012 study, researchers found that watermelon extract reduced blood pressure in and around the ankles of middle-aged people with obesity and early hypertension. The authors suggested that L-citrulline and L-arginine — two of the antioxidants in watermelon — may improve the function of the arteries.
Lycopene — another antioxidant in watermelon — may help protect against heart disease. A 2017 review suggested that it might do this by reducing inflammation linked with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.
Phytosterols are plant compounds that may help manage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Some guidelines recommend consuming 2 grams (g) of phytosterols each day. 154 g of watermelon balls provides a small amount, at 3.08 mg.
Reducing LDL cholesterol may help prevent high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the precise impact of phytosterols on CVD remains unclear.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) note that free radicals can play a role in the development of some types of cancer. The oxidative stress they cause can result in DNA cell damage.
Dietary antioxidants in watermelon, such as vitamin C, may help prevent cancer by combatting free radicals.
Digestion and regularity
Watermelon has high water content and also provides some fiber. These nutrients help promote a healthy gut by preventing constipation and promoting regularity of bowel movements.
Watermelon is around 90% water and also provides electrolytes, such as potassium. This makes it a healthful choice of snack during the hot summer months.
People can eat watermelon fresh, as juice, or frozen in slices for a tasty cold Popsicle-style snack.
Brain and nervous system
Choline is another antioxidant that occurs in watermelon.
It contributes to the following functions and activities:
- muscle movement
- learning and memory
- maintaining the structure of cell membranes
- the transmission of nerve impulses
- early brain development
Watermelon and watermelon juice may reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes.
In a 2017 study, athletes drank either half a liter of either a placebo or watermelon juice with added L-citrulline, 2 hours before running a half marathon race. Those who consumed the watermelon drink reported less muscle soreness 24–72 hours after the race.
It is unclear whether consuming watermelon juice without added L-citrulline would have the same effect.
Studies suggest that vitamin C may help promote healthy skin, including reducing the risk of age-related damage.
In 2019, researchers published findings indicating that watermelon may improve features of metabolic syndrome, including obesity and cardiovascular measures. In the study, 33 people with overweight or obesity consumed either 2 cups of watermelon or low-fat cookies each day for 4 weeks.
The people who ate watermelon reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied for longer than those who ate the cookies.
In addition, after 4 weeks, those who ate watermelon had:
- higher levels of antioxidants in their blood
- lower body weight and body mass index (BMI)
- lower systolic blood pressure
- improved waist-to-hip ratio
Those who ate the cookies had higher levels of oxidative stress than the watermelon group. Their blood pressure and body fat also increased.
The results suggest that watermelon may be a good choice of snack for people with obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Some people use diuretic drugs to help their body remove excess water and salt. This can be useful for people with kidney problems, high blood pressure, and other conditions.
A 2014 mouse study concluded that watermelon’s diuretic action might be as effective as that of furosemide, which is a well-known diuretic. This could make it a natural option for people with excess fluid. Never stop taking a prescription diuretic without talking to your healthcare provider.
When buying a watermelon, people should look for one that is firm, heavy, and symmetrical without soft spots or bruising.
Tapping the outside can give a clue as to the texture of the fruit inside. Listen for a light and almost hollow sounding thud. This indicates the water and fruit contained is intact and has a stable structure.
Tips for serving watermelon include:
Juice: Place diced watermelon and a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold, refreshing, electrolyte drink that is perfect for rehydrating after exercise or a day in the sun.
Salad: Add watermelon, mint, and fresh mozzarella to a bed of spinach leaves for a tasty and healthful salad. Drizzle with balsamic dressing.
Smoothies: Make a watermelon smoothie or combine with orange juice for extra tang. Remember that juicing breaks down the fiber, making the sugar easier to absorb. People with diabetes should consider eating fresh, whole watermelon rather than drinking juice.
Roasted seeds: Roast the watermelon seeds in an oven for 15 – 20 minutes to make a tasty snack. One ounce (28.5 g) of seeds can provide around 8 g of protein, or 14% – 17% of a person’s daily protein needs.
People should check the packaging of premade juices and candies, as these may have added sugar and may not be as healthful. Eating watermelon whole is the most healthful option.