9 Health Benefits of Watermelon (No. 2 is Key!)
For most people, watermelon is the quintessential fruit of the summer. Watermelon has been a favorite for many for thousands of years, with the ancient Egyptians growing a primitive form of the fruit we love today as far back as four thousand years ago.
Today, it is uncommon to find a picnic or cookout that does not include one of the nearly three hundred varieties of watermelon on the menu. In addition to being delicious, the watermelon, or Citrullus lanatus, has many benefits that make indulging on this sweet fruit a healthy and wise choice year round.
1. Watermelon is Full of Lycopene
Lycopene is commonly associated with raw tomatoes, but watermelon, particularly the red fleshed variety opposed to the yellow fleshed variety, actually has more of this essential and potent antioxidant than tomatoes do.
Lycopene does more than give tomatoes, grapefruit, and of course, watermelon their signature colors; it has been shown to be essential in prevention of strokes, heart attacks, and certain types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer.
While there are different recipes for preparing watermelon, the most Lycopene will be provided by raw watermelon. Additionally, the riper the watermelon, the more Lycopene is present.
Even after slicing a watermelon, the levels of Lycopene remain present for up to a week when refrigerated.
2. Watermelon Can Help With Weight Loss
Watermelon is a great fruit to consume if you are trying to lose weight. (1) It is fat-free, low in carbohydrates, and is over ninety percent water. While there are many different diets that suggest different methods of weight loss, high consumption of water is almost universally suggested to aid in weight loss.
Low carbohydrates and low calories with high water content will help to keep you feeling full without overindulging. Even compared to other healthy fruits and vegetables, watermelon is a smart choice for weight loss.
[Related: 7 Benefits of Flax Seeds for Weight Loss]
3. Watermelon Can Improve Kidney Function
As stated, watermelon is very high in water, which increases urine production, which helps to flush waste and toxins out of the body, easing the amount of work the kidneys need to do. (2)
Additionally, the high levels of potassium also help to remove waste from the kidneys and the many antioxidants present in this fruit help to maintain the health of the kidneys as well as overall health throughout the body.
Keeping up with your kidney health will help prevent kidney stones as well as kidney disease and failure.
4. Watermelon Can Help With Cardiovascular Health
High blood pressure and heart disease are issues that many deal with, and watermelon’s high levels of potassium can help to lower blood pressure. (3) As a vasodilator, potassium helps to open the blood vessels to lower blood pressure, which in turn will place less pressure on the rest of the cardiovascular system.
While watermelon can help cardiovascular health, it is important to consume adequate water and get plenty of exercise to help avoid high blood pressure and other cardiovascular concerns.
5. Watermelon Can Ease Sore Muscles and Inflammation
Recent research has suggested that consuming watermelon, specifically drinking concentrated juice, can help with sore muscles after workouts. Citrulline is an amino acid found in watermelon but in few other plant materials and in one study was shown to help reduce muscle soreness for twenty four hours after the workout.
While this is only one study, many instances of anecdotal evidence support these claims as well. Potassium also can help to prevent cramping after workouts. If you want to see similar benefits, try using a juicer or blender to liquefy the watermelon.
Watermelon also contains a variety of different anti-inflammatory nutrients, which can help make workouts less painful.
6. Watermelon Rind is Edible and So Are the Seeds
Most people assume that the rind of watermelon is inedible and throw it away. In reality, the rind is definitely edible and has many of the same benefits as the flesh. It might take a little more imagination to incorporate the rinds into your diet, but it is nutritionally and economically effective to use the entire fruit.
Contrary to the old wives tale surrounding eating watermelon seeds, these slippery black seeds actually contain valuable fatty-acids that keep skin looking bright and helps prevent premature aging. (4) Unlike other parts of the watermelon, the seeds also contain protein, which helps to promote healthy hair and nails.
7. Watermelon Can Help Treat Asthma
Watermelon is full of phyto-nutrients (5), which work together with the body to help utilize antioxidants that help to rid the body of free radicals. This can also help to lower cholesterol, which can help ease, the effects of asthma and prevent it from developing in the first place.
With any serious medical condition, it is important not to rely on any natural remedy or food, such as watermelon, in lieu of your medication.
However, healthy diets containing phyto-nutrients can help to lessen the severity of your symptoms, which may in turn reduce the need for medication.
8. Watermelon and Vitamins A and C
Watermelon is high in both Vitamin A and Vitamin C. (6) While there are a host of different benefits of consuming an adequate amount of both of these vitamins, one of the most popular and important benefits is disease prevention.
Vitamin C is also important in healing wounds and aiding in the absorption of iron. Vitamin A can help with vision problems such as cataracts and poor eye sight, raise sperm counts in men, alleviate premenstrual syndrome in women, and ensure healthy skin.
[Related: Is Watermelon Good for Everyone?]
9. Watermelon Can Help Prevent Heat Related Illnesses
There is more to eating watermelon in the summer than just the taste.
When heat fatigue and heat stroke occurs, the body is making more energy than it can get rid of through sweating.
Watermelon keeps the body hydrated and when chilled, can help to cool the body down. Watermelons also contain electrolytes, which are lost during sweating.
How to Incorporate More Watermelon into Your Diet
Even the most diehard watermelon eaters would get sick of eating plain water melon every day. However, there are a variety of different ways to incorporate all parts of the watermelon into your diet.
The flesh of watermelon can be used in a variety of different recipes. Due to the sweet and cool nature of watermelon, using this fruit as a base for salsa instead of tomatoes has been increasingly popular. Mint, watermelon, and cucumber salads with light vinaigrette are also a great way to add a little sweetness to your side dishes.
Of course, juicing watermelon or incorporating it into a smoothie are excellent ways to consume watermelon on the go. With watermelon, to fully gain all the benefits of the fruit, raw is best.
Similar to cucumbers, many like to pickle the rinds in vinegar. It is also popular to make it into smoothies to capitalize on the fiber as well. It is also not uncommon to make the rinds into jams and jellies, and there are even recipes online for watermelon rind stir-fry.
In order to gain the benefits of the protein-packed seeds, simply leave them in the watermelon as you are eating. It is also popular to toast watermelon seeds in the oven with a little oil, salt, and any other seasonings you might like.
How to Pick the Best Watermelon
In order to get the most benefits out of a watermelon, it is important to eat it when it is at its peak stage of ripeness. However, it is difficult to tell when a watermelon is perfect. Ideally, a watermelon will have a hallow sound when hit, meaning it is full of juice. It will also be fairly heavy for its size. There should also be a light yellow spot on the bottom of the melon, which means that it was allowed to ripen on the vine.
Conclusion: Eat More Watermelon!
Watermelon, while seemingly a simple sweet treat for the summer time, has a variety of different benefit to keep you healthy, happy, and cool during the summer months.
While there are quite a few different benefits to watermelon, it is still high in natural sugars and it is important to eat watermelon in moderation with other healthy fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.