The refreshing, sweet taste of watermelon on a hot day is something everyone can enjoy. Even better? The health benefits of watermelon are vast and include prevention of diseases and disorders, including kidney disorders, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, heat stroke, macular degeneration, and even impotence.
What is Watermelon?
Watermelon, with the stylish scientific name of Citrullus lanatus, is a fruit that grows on a vine-like flowering plant native to Southern Africa. It was cultivated in the Nile River Valley, in Egypt, and eventually in China, roughly 1,000 years ago. Now, watermelon is grown around the world, and in 44 of the 50 states in America. It is specifically selected to grow larger and juicier, resulting in the huge fruits of which many of us are familiar. The green outer rind is hard and fleshy, and rarely eaten, while the interior is soft, red or pink flesh containing many seeds; this is the part of the watermelon that is typically eaten.
As for accessing the total medicinal benefits of watermelons (Citrullus lanatus), it is highly dependent on the variety of watermelon and the ripeness. Beta-carotene and lycopene are usually available in high quantities once the watermelon is completely ripe. While many consider the watermelon rind to be inedible, don’t be fooled; Not only can you consume it, but there are quite a few nutrients in there as well, particularly roughage and fiber.
Nutritional Content of Watermelon
The beneficial effects of watermelon are mainly derived from its unique mix of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. These include significant amounts of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, protein, and a large amount of potassium, as per the USDA National Nutrient Database. Furthermore, they contain vitamin A and B vitamins – vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin – and a wide variety of carotenoids and , including lycopene!
The question is, why is there so much craze for watermelon?
At first glance, it may seem like nothing more than a big ball of water. We all know that there is nothing more refreshing than a big, chilled wedge of watermelon, but what’s the real reason so many people flock to grocery stores every summer to buy a big fruit like this one? Well, it is hard to narrow it down to a single reason; there are actually a lot of them.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
All the above components of watermelons contribute to their major impact on health; let’s explore some more details of those benefits below.
Gives Relief from Kidney Disorders
Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, as do many fruits and vegetables, which is thought to be helpful in flushing out the toxic depositions in the kidney. Moreover, they are known to reduce the concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi. In addition to this, being high in water content, watermelons induce urination, which is again helpful for cleaning the kidneys. Also, the present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time and reduce signs of premature aging like wrinkles and age spots on the skin. Exercise caution in consuming watermelon, however, if you already have kidney disease, as the high water and potassium content may do more harm than good.
Research published in EXCLI Experimental and Clinical Sciences, states that watermelon is made up of 92 percent water and can be effective in reducing both your body temperature and . It also helps hydrate your body during the hot summer. People in tropical regions eat this fruit every day during the summer to protect themselves from heat stroke. The high amount of water in watermelons also stimulates a release of excess liquid in the form of sweat, which cools your body further during hot summer days.
Regulates Blood Pressure
The American Journal of Hypertension has published a study that states that watermelon extract plays a significant role in lowering blood pressure in obese people suffering from . Moreover, the amount of potassium and magnesium present in watermelons is very beneficial in terms of lowering blood pressure. Potassium is considered a , meaning that it releases the tension on blood vessels and arteries, thereby stimulating blood flow and reducing the stress on the system. The carotenoids present in these fruits and others with high carotenoid content, such as guava – also prevent hardening of artery walls and veins, helping reduce blood pressure and the chances of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.
A study led by Dr. Laura Bowers of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests that lower insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) could be important for reducing the risk of cancer. Watermelon helps lower insulin/IGF, which is often a major factor that worsens cancer. Further investigation is needed, though, regarding this and the effect of drugs targeting this system.
Watermelons have gained a lot of attention in recent years, primarily because of their impressive level of lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient compound that is increasingly being linked to cancer prevention. Lycopene has been shown to significantly reduce the risks of prostate, breast, colon, lung, and endometrial cancer. All in all, between the antioxidant potential of vitamin C, anti-tumor properties of cucurbitacin E and the impact of lycopene, watermelon is a great fruit to add to any cancer prevention diet!
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.15|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||7.55|
|Fiber, total dietary [g]||0.4|
|Sugars, total [g]||6.2|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||7|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||0.24|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||10|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||11|
|Potassium, K [mg]||112|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||1|
|Zinc, Zn [mg]||0.1|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]||8.1|
|Vitamin B-6 [mg]||0.05|
|Folate, DFE [µg]||3|
|Vitamin B-12 [µg]||0|
|Vitamin A, RAE [µg]||28|
|Vitamin A, IU [IU]||569|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]||0.05|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]||0|
|Vitamin D [IU]||0|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]||0.1|
|Fatty acids, total saturated [g]||0.02|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.04|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.05|
|Fatty acids, total trans [g]||0|
|Sources include : USDA|
Diabetics, who are supposed to follow a diet low in sugar and consistent in carbohydrates, often complain about starving, since they don’t get to eat their staple diets, which gives them the feeling of being half-fed. Watermelons can be a good supplement for them. In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will give them very few calories, as ninety-nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in the proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in watermelons, is very effective at enhancing the impact of insulin on blood sugar. Diabetics can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from watermelon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.
A 2014 study says that lycopene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon may help improve cardiac functions. Beta-carotene, known for its great antioxidant and anti-aging properties can help prevent age-related cardiac problems. The roughage in watermelon, along with vitamin C, carotenoids, and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), helps reduce and keep your heart safe from many dangerous conditions. More research is needed to confirm lycopene’s beneficial effect on cardiac function, but these initial results are promising!
Prevents Macular Degeneration
Research suggests that carotenoids help keep the vision health intact. Ocular health and macular degeneration may be less of a worry if you eat plenty of watermelons. Thanks to the beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, your eyes are better protected. Benefits to your eyes may include defense from age-related blindness and degeneration, drying up of eyes and optic nerves, and glaucoma.
Relief from Impotence
Arginine, present in watermelon, is thought to be beneficial in curing erectile dysfunction. The stimulating nature of arginine is considered to boost the libido, reduce frigidity, and give your love life a fresh start after you enjoy a few slices of watermelon together!
Watermelon seeds are rich in beneficial fats and proteins. As mentioned, watermelons contain phytonutrients which have very good effects on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, and the secretion system.
Even in daily living, many find the benefits vast and surprising.
One of our Organic Facts readers, Berrada Ali, wrote “I was traveling from Agadir to Marrakech in Morocco yesterday (August 8, 2008), and en cours de route, I bought a watermelon. During a hot day, I don’t feel good. I measured my blood pressure with a handy apparatus -a tension meter- the result was: 7.8/15.2 for diastolic and systolic pressure. Then, I ate half a kilogram of watermelon, of a variety well known in the region of Southern Morocco – avariety. Immediately, I measured my blood pressure and the result was: 8.2/12.3 for diastolic and systolic pressures! The drop in my blood pressure could not be the effect of any agent other than the watermelon!”
Word of Caution: Pre-cut melons were recently identified as a possible carrier of salmonella. So, be cautious while consuming this otherwise healthy fruit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: avoid this by choosing and handling fruit safely to help prevent foodborne illness. Wash hands and food preparation surfaces before and after preparing the fruit. pre-cut fruit at 40 degrees F or colder.