Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that is good for you. Nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides.
Watermelon not only boosts your "health esteem," but it has excellent levels of vitamins A and C and a good level of vitamin B6. It contains only 46 calories per cup, that's lower than even "low-sugar" fruits such as berries.
Watermelons have reputed roots in Africa, with the first recorded harvest in Egypt somewhere around 5,000 years ago. From there, they were sprouted throughout Asia and Europe. Colonists brought seeds with them to the New World, where around four billion pounds of watermelons are now produced every year.
Watermelon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family with cucumber, as well as squash and pumpkin, botanically called a pepo. They grow on long vines and rest on the ground while they mature. Often oblong and light green in colour, they can also be round, spotted, or striped with white bands running from end to end.
Rather than being genetically modified as some people fear, seedless watermelons are sterile hybrids created by crossing male pollen, containing 22 chromosomes per cell (making it a tetraploid plant), with a female watermelon flower having 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seeds contain 33 chromosomes (a triploid seed), rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.
Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, with upwards of 6,500 micrograms (6.5 mg) in less than half a cup (the red-fleshed varieties will contain significantly more lycopene than yellow-fleshed watermelon).
Watermelon is the Lycopene Leader among fresh produce. In addition to its healthy properties and effects on women, children, men and pregnant women, watermelon is an important part of a healthy diet.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Helps you hydrate
Drinking water is an important way to keep your body hydrated. However, eating foods that have high water content can also help.
Interestingly, watermelon is 92% water. High water content is one of the reasons that fruits and vegetables help you feel full. The combination of water and fibre means you're eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.
Contains compounds that may help prevent cancer
Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects.
Although lycopene intake is linked to a lower risk of some types of cancer, the results are mixed. The strongest link so far seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system.
Lycopene appears to reduce cancer risk by lowering insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein involved in cell division. High IGF levels are linked to cancer.
In addition, cucurbitacin E has been investigated for its ability to inhibit tumour growth.
May improve heart health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.
Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.
According to studies in obese postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also help reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls.
Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, which lowers blood pressure.
Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium and potassium.
Reduces risk of kidney disorders
Watermelons contain a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing out the toxic depositions in the kidney. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing the concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi in that organ. In addition to this, being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of the kidneys. Also, the anti oxidants present in watermelon ensure good health of the kidneys for a long time.
May lower inflammation
Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.
Choline found in watermelon is a very important and versatile nutrient that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.
May help prevent macular degeneration
Found in several parts of the eye, lycopene helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.
It may also help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults.
Lycopene's role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.
May help relieve muscle soreness
Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely due to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.
Good for skin and hair
Two vitamins in watermelon, A and C, are important for skin and hair health.
Watermelon is great for the skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
Adequate intake of vitamin C is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Additionally, watermelon contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for healthy looking skin and hair.
Can help improve digestion
Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fibre both of which are important for healthy digestion.
Fibre can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently.
Eating water-rich and fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, can be very helpful for promoting normal bowel movements.
Watermelon, because of its water and fibre content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables, including watermelon.
Beneficial in curing erectile dysfunction
A recent study estimated that nearly 1 in 52 men worldwide experience some degree of impotence.
Arginine present in watermelon is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunction, and the stimulating nature of the chemical can boost libido, reduce frigidity and give a kick start to your love life, after you enjoy a few slices of watermelon together.
Aids weight loss
Because watermelon is composed of so much water, it is by no means unusual to hear that eating watermelon may help to reduce fat or lose weight.
This property of the fruit, however, may be attributed to more than just its high water content.
The high levels of citrulline in watermelon mean that when our body processes this amino acid it can convert it into another amino acid called arginine.
Recently, several studies have been finding evidence that the more conversion there is from citrulline to arginine, the more the amino acids block the activity of an enzyme called tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase, TNAP.
Interestingly, blocking the metabolic activities of this enzyme may help to prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells.
The reason this occurs is thought to begin with arginine’s function in the body. Researchers have found that arginine stimulates lipolysis and the expression of several genes responsible for fatty acid oxidation.
Increases Bones Health
Many people always think of “milk” or “calcium” when we hear about improving our bone health.
Along with improving our cardiovascular health, lycopene has also been found to improve our bone health and prevent unnecessary bone loss as we age.
Lycopene is exactly what it is categorized as an anti-oxidant. It reduces oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which in turn reduces the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
These bone cell categories are the ones that are usually involved in the onset and pathogenesis of osteoporosis.
Additionally, one study discovered that another way lycopene exerts its protective effect on our body and our bones is by suppressing bone resorption, which significantly inhibits bone loss.
Luckily, watermelons are packed with both lycopene and a bit of calcium as well, which makes for a super-food that your bones need.
Helps with wound healing
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is involved in all phases of human wound healing. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is around 60 mg, but many researchers are beginning to find that supplements of this nutrient that are far above the recommended daily amount may actually have a beneficial role in speeding up would healing.
Because watermelon is so rich in vitamin C, it is a perfect candidate if you want more vitamin C.
Prevents heat stroke
Watermelon is effective in reducing both your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in tropical regions eat watermelon every day in the afternoon during the summer to protect themselves from heat stroke.
In India, you will find watermelons being sold by vendors in almost every street during the summer season. The high amount of water contained in watermelon also stimulates a release of excess liquid in the form of sweat, which cools your body further during hot summer days.
Supports the immune system
Many of our mothers probably instilled in us the urge to drink a glass of orange juice when we start to feel a cold coming on, and they were right.
Many citrus fruits, such as oranges, contain an abundance of vitamin C, which helps fight off those common colds.
When we get an infection, illness, or are under a lot of stress, the vitamin C concentrations in our plasma and leukocytes rapidly decline.
Therefore, our bodies our lacking in a vitamin that we greatly need when we are sick, so supplementing vitamin C when you are sick or beginning to get an illness has had much success in improving the human immune system.
It helps your immune system by improving antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities as well as lymphocyte proliferation, which is the type of blood cells that are called for during infections and illnesses.
Watermelon is an additional fruit that provides rich helpings of vitamin C to help strengthen our immune system.
Improves gums health
With all the health benefits named so far, it seems as if there isn’t much that watermelon can’t help.
Much of this is due to watermelon’s high amount of vitamin C, which helps ward off and prevent many diseases and health issues, one being gum disease.
Vitamin C is known to help with collagen synthesis and is clearly required in times of infectious diseases.
In such gum diseases as periodontitis, the tooth tissue is attacked by bacteria, so vitamin C is needed by the body to help repair the damage and regenerate new tissue.
Because watermelon is so high in vitamin C, this summer fruit can help you keep your gum healthy and fresh.
Good for diabetes
Diabetic patients, who are supposed to have a low energy and low sugar diet, 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 you very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage.
Moreover, the various vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in 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.
Diabetic patients can also have curries, steaks, and salads made from water melon rinds, which are even lower in sugar.
Watermelon Seed Benefits
You might be accustomed to spitting them out as you eat. Some people just opt for seedless. But the nutritional value of watermelon seeds may convince you otherwise.
Watermelon seeds are low in calories and are nutrient dense. When roasted, they’re crispy and can easily take the place of other unhealthy snack options.
How to roast them
Roasting watermelon seeds is easy. Set your oven at 325°F (approximately 163°C) and place the seeds on a baking sheet. It should only take about 15 minutes for them to roast, but you may want to stir them halfway through to ensure an even crispiness.
You can make the seeds taste even better by adding a little olive oil and salt, or sprinkling them with cinnamon and a light dusting of sugar. If you prefer more flavour, you can add lime juice and chilli powder, or even cayenne pepper.
Nutritional benefits of watermelon seeds
How much nutrition you reap from watermelon seeds depends largely on how many you eat. Because they’re small, you need to eat quite a few to get their considerable benefits. However, when you compare their nutritional value to that of other snacks out there, watermelon seeds come out far ahead.
1. Low calorie
One ounce of watermelon seeds contains approximately 158 calories. That’s not much lower than an ounce of Lay’s Potato Chips (160 calories), but let’s take a look at what constitutes an ounce. There are approximately 400 watermelon seeds in a single ounce, far too many to eat in one sitting. By contrast, there are only 15 potato chips in an ounce, far less than most people would normally munch in one sitting.
A large handful of watermelon seeds weigh about 4 grams, which contains about 56 seeds and just 22 calories, far less than a bag of potato chips.
One of several minerals found in watermelon seeds is magnesium. In a 4 gram serving, you’ll get 21 mg of magnesium. The FDA recommends adults get 400 mg of this mineral daily. Magnesium is essential for many of the body’s metabolic functions. It’s also required to maintain nerve and muscle function, as well as immune, heart, and bone health.
A handful of watermelon seeds contain about 0.29 mg of iron. It might not seem like much, but the FDA only recommends adults get 18 mg in their day. Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, carrying oxygen through the body. It also helps your body convert calories into energy.
There are 2 μ of folate in a single serving of watermelon seeds. The FDA recommends adults get 400 μ each day. Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, is important for proper brain function and also works to control homocysteine levels. Women of childbearing years need even more, since folate deficiency has been associated with certain neural tubal birth defects.
5. ‘Good’ Fats
Watermelon seeds also provide a good source of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids — 0.3 and 1.1 grams, respectively. According to the American Heart Association, these fats are useful in protecting against heart attack and stroke, and lowering levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
Watermelon seeds have many health benefits. Although the amounts of some minerals and vitamins within them may seem low, they are still far preferable to those unhealthy snacks.
Also, watermelon rind is edible and actually contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink/red flesh; citrulline is converted to arginine in your kidneys, which is important for heart and immune system health.
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
Cutting into a watermelon and finding out it lacks flavour is disappointing. Many supermarkets offer pre-cut watermelon that has already been sliced in half or cut into quarters.
Be sure to choose fruit with the deepest colour of flesh and without any white streaking. If the seeds are visible, make sure they are also deep in colour or white.
On the other hand, when purchasing a full watermelon, you can’t really tell what colour the flesh or seeds are.
There's a trick you can use to pick out a ripe and juicy watermelon, either from your farmer's market or your own melon patch. Look for a pale, buttery-yellow spot (not white or green) on the bottom. This is where the watermelon sits on the ground ripening, and it's one of the best indicators of ripeness you can use (even commercial watermelon pickers use this as a gauge). Other tricks for picking a ripe watermelon include:
Should be heavy for its size. Heavy watermelon means more water, which means the fruit is riper.
Smooth rind with a dull top (the top is the side opposite the ground spot)
The thump test (this is controversial, but ripe watermelon is said to have a hollow bass sound). Knocking on the watermelon can also tell you whether or not the watermelon is satisfactory. A fully ripened watermelon should have a deep, hollow sound when you knock on it rather than a solid, shallow sound.
Store your watermelon in a cool area (50-60 degrees F) until it's cut. Cut watermelon should be kept covered at all times in a refrigerator (and be sure to wipe off your watermelon with a damp cloth prior to cutting it). Remember, try the rind blended with some lime juice rather than simply tossing it in the trash (choose an organic watermelon especially if you'll be eating the rind). Finally, watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose (It is advisable to keep your total fructose intake below 25 grams of fructose per day if you're in good health and below 15 grams a day if you're overweight or have high blood pressure or diabetes).
Archeologists have found watermelon seeds and remnants of other fruits at 5,000-year-old settlements in Libya.
Seeds are one thing, but finding pieces of the actual fruit is another, which is much more unlikely.
Fortunately, historians have found paintings of watermelons in Egyptian tombs that date back over 4,000 years ago.
In fact, one of those tombs was actually the infamous King Tut’s tomb, which had a painting depicting a red, oblong watermelon rather than the ancient round fruit common at the time.
One reason why ancient civilizations kept paintings as well as real watermelons in their tombs was because of the water source that the fruit provided.
When Egyptian pharaohs died, it was believed they had a long journey ahead of them and therefore needed energy and water that the watermelon could provide in the afterlife.
Watermelon did not always have its famous red hue on the inside; instead, ripe watermelon used to have an almost yellowish interior, sometimes even orange.
As time passed and farmers began cultivating the fruit for specific purposes, watermelon began to take on its familiar red colour. Such a change occurred because the gene for the red colour is actually paired with the gene that determines the sugar content and therefore the sweetness of the fruit.
As people bred watermelons to become sweeter instead of bitter, they caused the colour of the fruit to change as well.
Although tomatoes have historically been the leading fruit famous for its high lycopene content, recent research found that watermelon actually contain more lycopene than tomatoes.
The largest increase in lycopene content occurs when the watermelon changes from a white-pink colour to deep pink/red. Therefore, it is highly important to allow your watermelons to ripen properly to reap the most nutritional benefits from the fruit.
Watermelon will not cause any significant side effects or symptoms as long as it is taken in moderation. This caution applies to almost every food.
As long as you eat at an adequate pace and consume food in moderation, you will be fine.
Nonetheless, if watermelon is eaten in excess, it could cause a disorder known as hyperkalemia, especially in those people who suffer from kidney disease.
Hyperkalemia is a medical term that refers to potassium levels in your blood that are higher than normal and watermelons do have a lot of potassium.
Although not common, some people may find that they experience allergic reactions after eating watermelon.
It has been noticed that many people who do experience allergic reactions are also those who are susceptible to celery, cucumber, or latex allergies, since these foods share similar makeup and latex is present in small amounts in all these foods.
How can I incorporate more watermelon into my diet?
Because watermelon is so versatile, it can easily be incorporated into a diet. Consider the following:
Roasted seeds - getting the watermelon seeds and roasting them in the oven for 15-20 minutes is a tasty snack that can be made in advance. Try adding just a little salt to taste.
Blended - place diced watermelon and a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold, refreshing electrolyte drink that is perfect for rehydrating after exercise or a day in the sun.
Salad - jazz up a boring salad by adding watermelon, mint, and fresh mozzarella to a bed of spinach leaves. Drizzle with balsamic dressing.
Smoothies are a good way to consume watermelon. Their high water content makes them not too thick and they can be ready to drink in seconds. Try to avoid juicing as this can pack a lot of sugar in a smaller volume, whilst removing the fibre.
Luckily, this is one fruit you will have no trouble getting anyone to try as it’s the hands-down favourite among kids and adults alike.
....making effort to "STAY WELL"