Watermelon is a refreshing and delicious fruit with nutritious seeds. However, most people spit out or throw away watermelon seeds, which is a big mistake. Despite laughably false claims that swallowing the seeds will cause a watermelon to grow in your stomach, most people are unaware of the impressive nutritional value these seeds possess and the potential benefits they can have for your health.
Watermelon seeds come from the watermelon plant, which grows on the vine and bears the scientific name Citrullus lanatus. The seeds come in two main colors, white and black, which are the immature and fully developed seeds respectively. The black seeds are the ones you should choose to snack on and there can be hundreds in a single watermelon. These seeds are rich in certain nutrients and antioxidants and can be prepared in a number of ways to enjoy along with the juicy, pink fruit.
Can You Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Experts have agreed that eating watermelon seeds is perfectly safe, and can actually be very good for your overall health. There is no danger to swallowing as many of these seeds as you want, although parents may worry about their kids choking on the seeds, which may explain why some watermelons have been genetically modified to lack seeds.
There are also a number ways to eat watermelon seeds including letting them sprout, roasting them, or extracting the concentrated oil.
Sprouting Your Seeds
One of the best ways to get the most out of your watermelon seeds is to allow them to sprout. To benefit from the full protein concentration of watermelon seeds, you must soak them overnight and then allow them to sit for 2-3 days. The seeds will eventually sprout, at which point you can dry them in the sun or on a dehydrator before having them for a delicious and nutrient-dense snack.
Some people don’t want to wait for the seeds to sprout before enjoying them, and while the nutrient density will be slightly compromised, it is possible to roast and salt watermelon seeds. Cook them on a baking pan at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until the seeds are crispy. Spraying the pan with olive oil will lend the seeds a rich, delicious flavor after they are roasted.
Watermelon Seed Oil
Another popular option to benefit from the nutrient density of watermelon seeds it to extract the watermelon seed oil. This isn’t a process that is typically done at home but watermelon seed oil is widely available from natural health food stores, and it is particularly popular in Africa and Asia, where it is known as ootanga oil, and can be used as a topping on savory dishes, salads, and many other dishes.
Watermelon Seeds Nutrition Facts
Watermelon seeds are surprisingly packed with nutrients, including high levels of protein and amino acids (approx. 60% of your daily requirements in 1 cup of dried seeds). These seeds also offer a significant level of B vitamins, particularly niacin, as well as magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron. There is also a diverse range of fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with smaller levels of saturated fats. The nutrient density also comes along with a high-calorie count – a cup of dried watermelon seeds contains roughly 600 calories.
Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds
The most surprising and impressive benefits of watermelon seeds include their ability to boost hair health, support beautiful skin, increase energy, lower blood pressure, stimulate digestion, regulate blood sugar, build strong bones, and lower cholesterol levels.
Watermelon seeds are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and other types of fat that are beneficial to your skin. Regularly consuming watermelon seeds can help moisturize your skin and keep it from looking dull or discolored. The antioxidants in watermelon seeds will also help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, as well as age spots and blemishes. Furthermore, your skin’s elasticity can be boosted by the regular consumption of these seeds. Most importantly, regular application of watermelon seed oil on the skin can prevent pores from becoming clogged, which will lower your risk of developing acne.
Due to the high levels of protein, iron, magnesium, and copper, watermelon seeds are regularly praised for their effect on hair health and appearance. Protein is an essential component in hair growth, which makes this snack essential for people with hair loss or thin hair. Magnesium is a critical component of keeping hair strong and preventing breakage and split ends. Copper is integral in the production of melanin, which provides the color to your hair, ensuring that it is vibrant and silky smooth.
Growth & Development
Protein is one of the most important components of our diet, as proteins are composed of amino acids that are needed for the production of all cells and tissues in the body. Watermelon seeds, in particular, contain high levels of arginine, which has been directly linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Other amino acids are also present in these seeds, helping maintain normal growth and repair processes in various organ systems.
Aside from helping develop new cells and tissues, amino acids are key elements in sexual activity and libido. The significant levels of lysine, glutamic acid, and arginine can boost sex drive in those men who are suffering from infertility or impotence, while certain carotenoids found in these seeds will increase sperm production, boosting the chances of conception for couples trying to get pregnant.
Boost Energy Levels
If you need a rapid energy boost, the calories in a single cup of these seeds are more than enough to kickstart the metabolism and provide the body with the resources it needs. Many of these calories come in the form of beneficial fatty acids, so while eating an excessive amount of these seeds will cause weight gain, moderate consumption is highly recommended.
Control Blood Sugar
Research has linked the consumption of watermelon seeds to better control of blood sugar and lowered insulin sensitivity in the body. This can reduce strain on the pancreas and also help reduce the spikes and drops in glucose that can be dangerous to diabetics. The magnesium found in watermelon seeds can also be helpful, as it can regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates and slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels
The levels of dietary fiber, in addition to the excellent balance of fatty acids, can help lower dangerous levels of LDL cholesterol. This bad cholesterol is responsible for plaque deposition and an increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke, so managing these levels and boosting HDL good cholesterol levels may be the best effect of watermelon seeds.
Improve Immune System
With a number of carotenoids, antioxidants, and B-family vitamins, these seeds are able to improve the immune response and minimize strain on the immune system. Antioxidants help counter the negative effects of free radicals, thus reducing oxidative stress and lowering your risk of various chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Watermelon seeds are an incredible source of minerals, with roughly 140% of your magnesium requirements in a single cup of dried seeds. This is in addition to copper, iron, potassium, and manganese, all of which can help strengthen bones and increase bone mineral density. This will lower your risk of early-onset osteoporosis and keep you feeling strong and durable as you age.
Lower Blood Pressure
Nutrients like in magnesium, potassium, and certain amino acids in watermelon seeds are able to improve heart health. Arginine is linked to lowering blood pressure, as are the omega-6 fatty acids found in these seeds. Potassium is also a well-known vasodilator, helping regulate blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.
Improve Nervous System Function
B vitamins are often overlooked in the big picture of human health, but compounds like niacin, thiamin, folate, riboflavin and pantothenic acid, all of which are found in watermelon seeds, can help regulate the metabolism and improve nervous system activity. These vitamins will improve communication between your brain and organs and muscles for optimal function.