The Truth about Watermelons…and Benefits - thenutritionwatchdog.com (2022)

The Truth about Watermelons…and Benefits - thenutritionwatchdog.com (1)

By: Catherine Ebeling
Co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen,The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

Nothing says “Summer” better than a cool, refreshing, sweet, juicy, delicious slice of ripe watermelon—no matter what time of year it is. But I often hear cautions on eating watermelon—that it is high glycemic, full of sugar, mostly water, not very nutritious, etc.

Right? Or wrong?

While watermelons are mostly water—90% or so, they are also full of vitamins A, B6, C, lycopene, antioxidants and minerals. Remember hearing about the lycopene in tomatoes? Watermelon, another red-colored fruit, is FULL of this powerful phytonutrient! In fact, watermelon has some of the highest levels of lycopene of all fruits and veggies. Just one cup of watermelon has 1 and a half times the lycopene of a large fresh tomato. And who eats just one cup of watermelon? I know I don’t!

Because watermelon is one of the best sources of lycopene with more than 6,500 micrograms in less than half a cup, you are getting an army’s worth of inflammation-fighting antioxidant activity! Lycopene from the red flesh of watermelon is very stable, even after the watermelon has been cut and stored in the refrigerator. Lycopene is thought to be even more powerful than its other orange/red colored ally, beta carotene—found in red and orange fruits and veggies.

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Cardiovascular Benefits

Lycopene is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, valued for its role in protecting the cardiovascular system, bone health, and preventing cancer. Along with lycopene, watermelons contain another powerful phytochemical, citrulline, an amino acid. Citrulline gets converted into another important chemical in the body, arginine, or L-arginine. Arginine is used to create nitric oxide, which has powerful benefits on the heart and blood vessels. NO can actually cause blood vessels to relax and open up, lowering blood pressure and helping the body carry more oxygen to parts of the body where it is needed–like muscles, your heart and your brain. A study from Florida State University found that watermelon could make a significant difference in lowering blood pressure–especially in overweight people, by relaxing the blood vessel walls.

Citrulline, when it converts into arginine, can also help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells, because it blocks an enzyme that stores this fat. And because citrulline is a precursor to nitric oxide, it can also help improve erectile dysfunction in men, in a similar way that Viagra works—although you would have to quite a bit of watermelon to get the same effect as Viagra.

As you can see in this article, watermelons are on the list of foods that beat statins for heart health!

It’s All About the Lycopene

Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, capable of destroying free radicals which attack our bodies and can contribute to chronic disease and aging. In one study of 13,000 adult Americans, low levels of carotenoids were a key predictor of early death. Especially low blood levels of lycopene! Lycopene protects our cardiovascular system, the male reproductive system, and in the skin, it protects and prevents UV damage from the sun.

Several studies have been conducted showing the strong link between levels of lycopene and heart disease. Analyses from the Physicians Health Study showed a 39% decrease in stroke risk in men with the highest blood levels of lycopene. Another study in Finland following 1,000 men for 12 years has had similar results as well.

Lycopene is also responsible for limiting the enzyme responsible for making cholesterol, so eating foods with more lycopene also helps to reduce cholesterol—specifically, LDL cholesterol. (Side note: speaking of heart health, did you know that grass fed dairy fat actually contains nutrients that help unclog your arteries)

Anti-Cancer Power

Lycopene is a life-saver in more ways than one! Besides its cardiovascular benefits, lycopene’s antioxidant power extends to anti-cancer effects as well. A 2014 meta-analysis of 10 studies shows dietary lycopene to be protective against ovarian cancers, as well as brain tumors and breast tumors.

And of course, we know about lycopene’s value in fighting prostate cancer. In several studies, higher intakes of foods containing lycopene and a higher serum or plasma concentration of lycopene was associated with a very significant decreased risk of prostate cancer—especially the more lethal kind of prostate cancer. When researchers studied only the men who had had at least one high risk PSA test, the subjects had a 50% decreased risk of lethal prostate cancer.

“Based on these results, we hypothesize that the consumption of a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods reduces the aggressive potential of prostate cancer by inhibiting the neoangiogenesis that occurs in tumor development,” Dr. Giovannucci’s team reported online ahead of print in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”

Other studies have shown lycopene’s powerful cancer fighting ability effective against lung cancer, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, colorectal, and cervical cancers as well.

Extremely Good for Rehydration

Watermelons get their name because they are over 90% water, and that water is full of electrolytes and potassium which helps you stay hydrated or to rehydrate. The perfect fruit to eat on hot summer days, or after a hard, sweaty workout! And that delicious juice can also help prevent muscle soreness—especially if you have watermelon before your intense workout.

Its Not Just the Red Part

While most of us only eat the juicy red flesh of the watermelon, the whole thing is actually edible and chock full of nutrients! From the red center to the stem end, and also the blossom end–including the white part near the rind–are a plethora of impressive antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C. Even the green rind is full of nutrients. The rind is full of chlorophyll, and contains even more citrulline than the red flesh. Try throwing your watermelon rinds into the blender with fresh squeezed lime juice for a healthy slushy treat.

It is still best, however, to pick ripest, reddest watermelon you can find. Lycopene content continues to increase all the way up until the time the watermelon is at its reddest and ripest.

And don’t spit out those seeds, unless you are in a watermelon seed-spitting contest! The black watermelon seeds are not only edible, but actually extremely good for you. They are full of iron, zinc, fiber and protein. Seedless watermelons are ok to eat too—they are not genetically modified, only hybrid forms of watermelon bred especially for their no-seed content.

Watermelons also are rich in anti-inflammatory substances including cucurbitacin E, tripterpenoid which help to block the pain and inflammation of certain enzymes, in a similar fashion as NSAID’s like ibuprofen and aspirin.

While being very low in calories (only about 46 calories in a cup), watermelon also contains an impressive variety of other important essential nutrients including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

The Age Old Question—How Do You Pick the Perfect Watermelon?

It can be a huge gamble finding the perfect, red, sweet watermelon. But—if you know what to look for, there is a real method to finding the best one. Look on the underside of the watermelon for a pale, butter-colored yellow spot—not white or green. This is one of the best indicators of the ripeness of the watermelon. Also pick up a few and choose the one that is heaviest for its size. Many people ‘thump’ the watermelon to check its ripeness too—listen for the best hollow bass sound.

Be aware that watermelons do contain a reasonable quantity of fructose, so be mindful of your sugar intake, and eat watermelon in moderation. With that said, because watermelons are so filling, and have both high water content AND high fiber content, the old myth that watermelons are high glycemic is not entirely true… This is because the “glycemic load” of a watermelon is actually fairly low since it’s nearly impossible to overeat large quantities of a food that is as filling as watermelon.

So enjoy your watermelon, knowing you’re doing your body good! Also try my friend Danette’s watermelon & lime juice drink here!

References:
Charnow, (Feb 2014). Lycopene May Decrease Prostate Cancer Risk. Retrieved from http://www.renalandurologynews.com/prostate-cancer/lycopene-may-decrease-prostate-cancer-risk/article/335907/
Figueroa, Wong, Kalfon. (2014).Effects of Watermelon Supplementation on Aortic Hemodynamic Responses to the Cold Pressor Test in Obese Hypertensive Adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpt295
Furhrman, J., MD. How Tomatoes Can Protect You Against Heart Attack and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.timigustafson.com/2013/how-tomatoes-can-protect-you-against-heart-attack-and-stroke/
Hak AE, Ma J, Powell CB, et al. (2004). Prospective study of plasma carotenoids and tocopherols in relation to risk of ischemic stroke. Stroke 2004; 35:1584-1588.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (Feb 1999). Tomatoes, Tomato-Based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer: Review of the Epidemiologic Literature. Retrieved from http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/91/4/317.full
Karppi J, Laukkanen JA, Sivenius J, et al. (2012). Serum lycopene decreases the risk of stroke in men: A population-based follow-up study. Neurology 2012; 79:1540-1547.
Karppi J, Laukkanen JA, Makikallio TH, et al. (2011). Low serum lycopene and beta-carotene increase risk of acute myocardial infarction in men. Eur J Public Health 2011.
Mateljan, G. World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31
Mercola, J., DO. (2014). 6 things you didn’t know about watermelon. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/21/watermelon-nutrition.aspx#_edn15
Szalay,J. (October, 2014). Watermelon: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/46019-watermelon-nutrition.html
Shardell MD, Alley DE, Hicks GE, et al. Low-serum carotenoid concentrations and carotenoid interactions predict mortality in US adults: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Nutr Res 2011; 31:178-189.

FAQs

What happens to your body when you eat watermelon every day? ›

Watermelon is rich in an amino acid called citrulline that may help move blood through your body and can lower your blood pressure. Your heart also enjoys the perks of all the lycopene watermelon contains. Studies show that it may lower your risk of heart attacks.

What health benefits does watermelon have? ›

Watermelon contains vitamin C, which the body needs to produce collagen. Collagen is essential for cell structure and immune function. Vitamin C also promotes wound healing. Studies suggest that vitamin C may help promote healthy skin, including reducing the risk of age-related damage.

What does watermelon and milk do to the female body? ›

If you eat watermelon and drink milk at the same time, the acid in the watermelon may bind the protein in the milk. The milk will then curdle and possibly ferment. This is what can make you feel ill after consuming these food groups together.

How much watermelon a day is healthy? ›

The USDA food database recognizes one serving of watermelon to be approximately 280g (about 1/16th of a watermelon). A healthy adult can safely eat 1-2 servings of watermelon per day.

Is watermelon good for arthritis? ›

Studies show that eating watermelon reduces the inflammatory marker CRP. It's also high in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which can reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It's also packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect against certain cancers and lower heart attack risk, says Dulan.

How long should I wait to drink water after eating watermelon? ›

People with stomach problems or sensitive stomachs should definitely avoid having water for at least 40-45 minutes after consuming watermelon. To be on the safer side, have water at least 20-30 minutes after having watermelon.

Is watermelon good for kidneys? ›

Watermelon is healthy because it's full of lycopene – an antioxidant that helps break down harmful free-oxygen radicals. It prevents kidney injury and therefore, is a kidney-friendly food.

What's the best time to eat watermelon? ›

Additionally, it is recommended to eat this fruit standalone and not as an accompaniment with meals. According to Ayurveda, the best time to eat watermelons is in the morning between 10 am to 12 pm, as breakfast or between breakfast and lunch. You can also have it as an evening snack, before 5 pm.

Is watermelon good for high blood pressure? ›

Watermelon

Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline. The body converts citrulline to arginine, and this helps the body produce nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and encourages flexibility in arteries. These effects aid the flow of blood, which can lower high blood pressure.

Is watermelon good for your liver? ›

Bananas, watermelons and grapes are very healthy and nutrient-rich fruits that are excellent for a healthy liver. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins, which help the liver function properly.

Can diabetics eat watermelon? ›

Watermelon is safe for people with diabetes to eat in moderation. However, it is best to consume watermelon and other high GI fruits alongside foods that contain plenty of nutritious fats, fiber, and protein.

Will watermelon raise blood sugar? ›

Basically, watermelon contains natural sugars that can raise blood sugar. But if you consume a small portion, like a cup of diced watermelon, then the effect on blood sugar is small. In fact, people with diabetes may benefit from consuming small amounts of watermelon in moderation.

What happens if we drink milk after eating watermelon? ›

Watermelon and milk are of 'viruddh' or opposite nature. Watermelon is slightly citrusy in nature, while milk is said to be of 'madhur' nature - which is sweet or mild. Hence, teaming them could lead to digestive issues and toxic build up, which could further lead to vomiting or lose motions.

What does watermelon do for men? ›

Chow down on watermelon, guys — it can help with prostate health and erectile dysfunction, thanks to phytonutrients like lycopene and citrulline. Lycopene — also found in other red fruits and vegetables — plays a role in protecting against prostate cancer.

Is watermelon good for hair? ›

Watermelon is packed with Vitamin C, which helps your body to use non-heme iron – this ensures that enough iron is in your red blood cells to assist in carrying oxygen to your hair follicles, promoting healthy hair. Collagen is also needed for healthy hair growth and watermelon helps promote collagen formation.

Is watermelon good for back pain? ›

If you're looking for foods that reduce back pain and are loaded with nutrition, try carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cherries, berries, grapes and red wine, pomegranate, and watermelon, she says.

What fruit is good for joint pain? ›

Berries pack a double dose of anti-inflammatory properties. All fruits are high in antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation. Additionally, foods like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.

What is the fastest way to reduce joint inflammation? ›

If you think your joint inflammation is due to a sudden injury, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method is the first line of treatment to reduce pain and swelling. See an orthopedist if the pain and swelling don't diminish after RICE treatment.

What happens if I eat only watermelon for a week? ›

Like all fad diets, the watermelon diet isn't a good long-term weight-loss solution. The diet is restrictive and doesn't include any dietary sources of protein. And since you're consuming so much water, you may suffer from diarrhea or bloating.

How much is too much watermelon in a day? ›

People with high potassium content in their body or those who suffer from serious hyperkalaemia should not eat more than about one cup of watermelon a day. Over consumption can result in irregular heartbeat and other cardiovascular problems, says the US National Institute of Health.

Is watermelon good for your skin? ›

Watermelon is loaded with nutrients that are all great for your skin. It holds vitamins such as A, B, and C, that work together to nourish and protect your skin. These vitamins also help boost collagen production, leaving skin brighter, fade spots, and basically refresh and revitalise your skin.

How often should you eat watermelon? ›

If health experts and nutritionists are to be believed, ideally, one can consume between 100 to 150 gms of watermelon a day. So, if you have been making the most of the summer season with a bowl full of red delight, rethink and indulge!

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