Health Benefits of Eating Watermelon

Watermelon is a popular summertime fruit that helps keep you hydrated, among many other benefits.

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Watermelon is a summertime staple, a beautiful and delicious fruit that is also really good for you. Here are the health benefits of watermelon, how to pick perfectly ripe fruit, and a few ways to incorporate it into meals, snacks, drinks, and desserts.

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Benefits of Watermelon

Watermelon is a hydrating fruit with many possible health benefits, including:

  • Prevents dehydration
  • Helps lower blood pressure and improves circulation, supporting heart health
  • Might reduce muscle soreness, especially if consumed before strenuous exercise
  • Helps manage weight if consumed instead of a sweet snack made of refined, artificial sugars
  • Supports a healthy gut with its fiber and prebiotic content
  • May protect against chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease
  • Improves your skin health with its vitamins A and C and antioxidant content

Benefits of Watermelon

Watermelon is a hydrating fruit with many possible health benefits. The nutrients in watermelon help support heart health, reduce muscle soreness, manage weight, aid digestion, and protect your skin. Watermelon may also prevent many chronic diseases.

Keeps You Hydrated

Water isn't in the fruit's name by chance. One cup of watermelon contains approximately five ounces of water (about the size of a yogurt container).

Consuming adequate fluids—including water-rich foods—has several health benefits, such as:

  • Preventing dehydration
  • Regulating your body temperature
  • Lubricating your joints
  • Protecting your spinal cord
  • Moving waste out of your body (e.g., urinating, sweating, and having bowel movements)

Being properly hydrated also impacts mental performance. Research has found that as little as a 1% loss of body fluid can impair mood, reduce concentration, interfere with working memory, and boost anxiety.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure and Improves Circulation

L-citrulline is a natural substance in watermelon, particularly in the white part of the rind. L-citrulline may improve artery function and lower blood pressure by helping blood vessels relax and improving circulation. 

Some evidence suggests that L-citrulline may improve muscle oxygenation and athletic performance during endurance exercise.

Might Reduce Muscle Soreness

In a study published in 2017, researchers asked people to drink 16 ounces of watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline two hours before running a half-marathon. The researchers found that those who drank the watermelon juice had less muscle soreness for up to 72 hours compared to a placebo group.

Helps Manage Weight

Watermelon may help manage weight when you consume it in place of a processed sweet snack.

A study published in 2019 looked at fullness and weight changes after a four-week intervention in overweight and obese adults. The researchers asked one group to consume two cups of fresh watermelon daily. A second group ate low-fat cookies with the same calories as the watermelon. 

The researchers allowed the groups to eat their snacks any time of day, during one or multiple sittings, or alone or with other foods. Watermelon promoted more fullness than the cookies, lasting up to 90 minutes after eating. People who ate watermelon lost weight, reduced their waist-to-hip ratios and blood pressure levels, and improved their cholesterol.

Supports Digestion

Watermelon is not very high in fiber. Still, the fiber in watermelon helps support a healthy gut. The fruit contains fluid and prebiotics, a fiber that stimulates the growth and activity of "good" bacteria in the large intestine.

Prebiotics are tied to healthy immune function, anti-inflammation, and positive mood. Prebiotics also boost mineral absorption, improve blood sugar and insulin levels, and may protect against colon cancer.

Helps Defend Against Chronic Diseases

Watermelon is one of the best sources of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant known to combat oxidative stress caused by cell-damaging free radicals.

As a result, lycopene helps reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer's disease

For the most lycopene, opt for traditional pink flesh watermelon, which contains more antioxidants than yellow and orange varieties.

May Protect Your Skin

Watermelon may protect your skin if you enjoy the fruit while it's in season. Watermelon's vitamins A and C support healthy skin. The fruit's lycopene content may protect against sun damage, although the effects are not immediate.

Nutrition of Watermelon

One cup of diced watermelon has the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 45.6
  • Fat: 0.228g
  • Sodium: 1.52mg
  • Carbohydrates: 11.5g
  • Fiber: 0.608g
  • Added sugars: 9.42g
  • Protein: 0.927g

That natural sweetness is bundled with vitamins A and C, which support immune function and skin health. Other nutrients include potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and health-protective antioxidants.

Risks of Watermelon

For the most part, watermelon is a safe fruit to enjoy in moderation. Still, people may need to take caution with watermelon, such as those with the following health conditions:

  • Oral allergy syndrome: This is a pollen allergy. The pollen from ragweed is related to watermelon. As a result, some people may develop tingly lips or an itchy mouth after eating the fruit. The body quickly breaks down watermelon in your mouth and stomach, so you are unlikely to have severe allergy symptoms.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) concerns: Watermelon is a high-FODMAP food. FODMAPs are short-chain carbs, sugars, starches, and fibers. The small intestine does not absorb high-FODMAP foods well. Instead, the FODMAPs retain water and ferment in the colon, which causes gas. People with GI concerns, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may have symptoms like stomach cramps and diarrhea.  
  • Diabetes: Watermelon has a high glycemic index (GI). GI indicates how quickly your blood sugar rises after eating certain foods. Low-GI foods raise blood sugar slowly, while high-GI foods spike blood sugar quickly. People with diabetes do not need to avoid high-GI foods like watermelon. Still, eating watermelon with low-GI foods (e.g., high-fiber bran cereal or oatmeal) helps manage blood sugar levels.

Tips for Consuming Watermelon

The trick to choosing a ripe watermelon is to look for a yellow or cream-colored splotch or ground spot, the fruit's key sign of peak ripeness. Given its high water content, a ripe watermelon is heavy when you pick it up. Be sure to wash the watermelon before you slice it to clear any bacteria.

Fresh watermelon is amazing; you can incorporate it into sweet and savory recipes. Tips for enjoying watermelon include:

  • Combine cubes or watermelon balls with other fresh fruit in a simple fruit salad garnished with fresh mint, freshly-grated ginger, or shredded coconut.
  • Add watermelon to a garden vegetable salad or serve over fresh greens with balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Skewer watermelon and avocado chunks coated with lime juice for a colorful snack or appetizer served raw or grilled.
  • Make a batch of watermelon salsa by combining it with cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice.
  • Combine seedless watermelon with fresh lemon juice and freeze for a refreshing and slushy drink.
  • Blend watermelon with coconut milk and chopped dark chocolate, then pour it into popsicle molds for an alternative to icy treats made with added sugar.
  • Dip fresh watermelon cubes in melted dark chocolate. The two treats pair surprisingly well.

A Quick Review

Watermelon is a delicious fruit to enjoy in the summertime with many possible health benefits. Research has found that the nutrients in watermelon reduce blood pressure and improve circulation to support heart health. Watermelon also helps reduce muscle soreness, manage weight, aid digestion, and protect your skin. Eating the fruit may also protect against chronic diseases.

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