Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is actually considered a nutrient dense food, a food that provides a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for a low amount of calories.
Watermelons have become synonymous with summer and picnics, and for good reason. Their refreshing quality and sweet taste help to combat the heat and also provide a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
Along with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. There are five common types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini (also known as personal), yellow and orange.
Possible health benefits of watermelon
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watermelon decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Along with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae.
Asthma prevention: 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.
Blood pressure: A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extract supplementation reduced ankle blood pressure, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension and that watermelon extract improved arterial function.
Diets rich in lycopene may help protect against heart disease.
Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C as well as other antioxidants, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer prevention in several studies.
Digestion and regularity: Watermelon, because of its water and fiber content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelon is a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in watermelon 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.
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 do to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.
Skin: Watermelon is also great for your skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
Adequate intake of vitamin C (one cup of watermelon provides 21% of daily needs) is also needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Watermelon also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair.
On the next page we look at the nutritional breakdown of watermelon, how to incorporate more watermelon into your diet and any possible health risks of consuming watermelon.
Nutritional breakdown of watermelon
One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.
Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Despite being a great source of the above nutrients, watermelon is made up of 92% water.
How to incorporate more watermelon into your dietWatermelon and feta salad
Jazz up a boring salad by adding watermelon or add to a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold refreshing treat!
Look for a watermelon that is firm, heavy and symmetrical without soft spots or bruising.
Place diced watermelon and a few ice cubes in a blender for a cold refreshing treat that's perfect for rehydrating after exercise or a day in the sun.
Visit the National Watermelon Board's recipe site for even more fun, inventive ideas on how to incorporate more watermelon into your diet.
Potential health risks of consuming watermelon
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.