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Top 12 Health Benefits of Hydrating Watermelon

By Jillian Levy, CHHC

August 14, 2020

Original article and page source found here.

Watermelon is considered a summertime staple, popping up at pool parties and summer barbecues all season long. While it’s well-known for its ability to keep you cool and hydrated, there are tons of other health perks associated with this popular fruit that are not as well-known.

What are the benefits of eating watermelon? As you’ll learn more about below, this fruit is low in calories, a good source of vitamins C and A, and has been linked to everything from reduced muscle pain and enhanced exercise recovery to improved vision and skin health.

Nutrition Facts

The watermelon plant, also known by its scientific name Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the flowering plant family known as Cucurbitaceae.

Is watermelon a fruit?

Yes, the spiky, low-to-the-ground watermelon plant, which originates from southern Africa, produces the popular edible fruit we now commonly consume.

It’s believed that wild varieties that were grown many years ago were more bitter than the types we eat today, thanks to the presence of a compound called cucurbitacin. Historically, many varieties, with different colors and tastes, were grown in various parts of the world, including across Africa.

Believe it or not, it’s estimated that there are actually more than 1,200 different cultivars of watermelon still in existence. This includes the lanatus, crimson sweet and jubilee watermelons.

Unbeknownst to most people, the entire watermelon is edible, including the rind and seeds. In fact, watermelon rind (which can be pickled or even stir-fried) is very high in citrulline, a compound that’s transformed into the amino acid arginine, which is associated with cardiovascular benefits and more.

The seeds are also chock-full of amino acids, the “building blocks of protein,” as well as some trace minerals, which is why they are included in some plant protein powders.

Is watermelon a “superfood”?

While it may not be as nutrient-dense as fruits such as berries or oranges, there are still some impressive benefits associated with watermelon nutrition.

All varieties are loaded with antioxidants and have been associated with a wide range of health benefits — such as better heart health, enhanced immunity and increased weight loss.

Two especially protective compounds found in this fruit are citrulline and lycopene.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data on watermelon nutrition, one cup (about 152 grams) contains approximately:

  • 46 calories

  • 11.5 grams carbs

  • 1 gram protein

  • 0.2 grams fat

  • 0.6 grams dietary fiber

  • 12.3 milligrams vitamin C (21 percent DV)

  • 865 international units vitamin A (17 percent DV)

  • 170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)

  • 15.2 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)

  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine (3 percent DV)

  • 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)

  • 0.3 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)

  • 0.1 milligrams copper (3 percent DV)

  • 0.1 milligrams manganese (3 percent DV)

Top 12 Benefits of Watermelon

Here are some of the top benefits of watermelon:

1. Can Help Support Immunity

In animal studies, watermelon consumption has been linked to reduced inflammation and improved antioxidant capacity.

Lycopene, one of the carotenoids found in abundance in this fruit, has potent antioxidant properties and can help reduce oxidative stress. It may also help keep your heart healthy, as well as defend against certain types of cancers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and macular diseases, according to recent research.

Studies show eating it can also increase levels of arginine, an important amino acid that’s used for the synthesis of nitric oxide. Not only does nitric oxide help dilate your vessels to keep blood flowing efficiently and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, but it’s also involved in regulating the immune system.

This fruit is also a great source of vitamin C, a key micronutrient that does double duty, acting as both an antioxidant and immune enhancer to keep your body healthy and ward off chronic disease. Antioxidants can help fight free radicals and protect the cells against oxidative damage and stress.

2. May Improve Heart Health

Watermelon contains a good amount of both potassium and magnesium, two important nutrients used to help remedy conditions like high blood pressure. Consuming proper amounts of potassium and magnesium from a nutritious diet seems to be associated with improved heart health, according to research, along with a decreased risk of death from heart disease.

A review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition showed that eating plenty of potassium-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can positively impact blood pressure levels, which may be useful in reducing the risk of conditions such as stroke and heart attacks.

Lycopene also benefits heart health by reducing inflammation, fighting oxidative stress and potentially improving blood lipid levels.

New research, including results from a 2019 study, suggests that drinking 100 percent watermelon juice is “a palatable, effective means of increasing serum lycopene in older adult women, a group at risk for low carotenoid intake.”

Studies have also shown that watermelon benefits may include helping relieve arterial stiffness, balance cholesterol and improve systolic blood pressure in adults with hypertension.

3. Can Relieve Pain and Soreness

In addition to the potential benefits of watermelon juice, this fruit also packs a good amount of vitamin C into each serving. Vitamin C has been shown to protect cartilage and bones, aid in the repair of tendons and ligaments, and help speed up wound healing.

Potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are also found in this type of melon, are important for muscle recovery and pain relief. Potassium, in particular, aids in the prevention of muscle cramps following exercise and helps you heal from injury more quickly.

4. Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

Studies have shown that the potassium found in fruits and vegetables is very helpful in cleaning toxins and washing out waste from the blood, helping prevent kidney stones.

Watermelon benefits also include being a natural diuretic. It helps increase urine production to transport waste and toxins out of the body to protect against kidney stones.

5. Aids in Hydration, Digestion and Detoxification

One of the top benefits of watermelon is its high water content. In fact, it is estimated to be composed of about 91 percent water, which can aid in detoxification and help rid the body of excess water and fluids, relieving uncomfortable bloating and swelling.

Potassium and magnesium are also important for detoxification.

Potassium acts as an electrolyte and promotes circulatory health while also helping manage blood flow and hydration levels within the body, allowing oxygen to reach your cells. At the same time, magnesium reduces water retention in the gut to beat bloating and help you lose water weight.

Another interesting finding from recent animal studies is that consumption of watermelon juice significantly lowers fasting blood glucose levels in diabetic mouse models. The juice seems to induce gut microbiome compositional changes that can have positive metabolic effects.

6. May Help Fight Cancer Cells

This fruit may act as a potent cancer-fighting food, squeezing a hearty dose of antioxidants and watermelon health benefits into each serving.

An important benefit of watermelon for men is that lycopene, one of the main carotenoids found in the fruit, has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer in some studies. Research also shows that lycopene plays a part in keeping cell membranes strong so they can protect themselves from toxins that can potentially cause cell death or mutation.

It’s also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which help fight free radical damage and prevent DNA mutation to block the formation of cancerous cells. Studies have also shown that high doses of vitamin C can enhance the cancer-fighting effects of certain drugs used in chemotherapy while also reducing adverse side effects of traditional cancer treatments.

7. Helps Protect Skin Health

Watermelon benefits skin health because it’s one of the top antioxidant foods available. Due to its high content of antioxidant vitamins A and C, watermelon benefits for skin include its ability to protect the cells against damage and fight free radical formation to slow aging and keep your skin looking healthy.

Vitamin C is especially important for skin health. It helps boost collagen production while also helping prevent sun damage.

Meanwhile, vitamin A is key to maintaining the health of your cells and protecting against UV damage.

8. Supports Healthy Vision

Important nutrients that play a role in protecting eye health — including beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin — are also housed in this giant fruit and sit among the many benefits of watermelon. Studies have shown that a serious vitamin A deficiency, for example, can lead to macular degeneration, a condition characterized by the thickening of the cornea that could eventually lead to blindness.