|By Nataliya Olifer|
Watermelon is a member of the flowering plant family known as Cucurbitaceae. The spiky, low-to-the-ground plant originates from southern Africa and produces the edible fruit that we now commonly consume. It’s believed that wild indigenous watermelon were more bitter than the type we eat today and that many varieties, with different colors and tastes, were actually grown wildly across Africa. It’s estimated that there are actually more than 1200 different kinds of watermelon species growing today.
The watermelon plant has been cultivated in Egypt since at least the 2nd millennium B.C. There is evidence that watermelon was eaten in the Nile Valley region during the second millennium B.C. Watermelon seeds have also been found at Twelfth Dynasty sites and even in the tomb of Pharaoh “King Tut.” Watermelon was also mentioned in the Bible and described as a Bible food eaten by the ancient Israelites while they were being held captive in Egypt.
By the 10th century A.D., the popularity of eating watermelon spread to parts of India and China. It later spread into southern Europe and made its way over to the Americas with explorers.
One cup serving of watermelon provides (in recommended daily allowances):
- 46 calories
- 0 grams of fat or protein
- 5 grams of sugar
- 21 percent vitamin C
- 18 percent vitamin A
- 5 percent potassium
- 4 percent magnesium
- 3 percent copper
- 3 percent manganese
- 3 percent pantothenic acid
- 3 percent vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- 3 percent vitamin B6
The beneficial effects of watermelon are mainly derived from its unique nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. These include significant amounts of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, protein, and a large amount of potassium. Furthermore, they contain vitamin A, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, and a wide variety of carotenoids and phytonutrients, including lycopene. Lycopene found in watermelon is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it has the ability to fight free radicals in the body that can damage cells.
Here are the top health benefits of eating watermelon:
Drinking 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 fiber means you're eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.
2. Boosts Immunity
Research from the journal Nutrition has concluded that watermelon can help the immune system stay strong and defend against cardiovascular disease — and potentially a natural cancer treatment, too — due to its effects on nitric oxide levels. As a prominent vitamin C food, the benefits of watermelon including helping to improve immune function, shorten the duration of sickness and improve symptoms, and help the body defend against heart disease and cancer.
3. Helps Manage High Blood Pressure and Improves Heart Health
Watermelon helps prevent both low potassium and magnesium deficiency, and these are two critical nutrients used to help remedy high blood pressure naturally. Consuming proper amounts of potassium and magnesium from a healthy diet is correlated with overall reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon, also improves cardiac function. Studies have shown that watermelon can help to reduce inflammation, relieve arterial stiffness, balance cholesterol and improve systolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
4. Relieves Pain and Muscle Soreness
Studies have shown that watermelon’s supply of the amino acid l-citrulline is effective at reducing muscle soreness. One particular Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study looked at watermelon juice as a functional drink for athletes and observed that after 24 hours of supplementing with watermelon juice, athletes experienced improved heart rates that were more beneficial for muscle recovery in addition to less overall soreness and muscle aches.
Additionally, benefits of watermelon include providing vitamin C, which has been shown to protect cartilage and bones, be used in repairing tendons and ligaments, and help speed wound healing and scar tissue. Obtaining proper amounts of potassium and magnesium from whole food sources is also important for muscle recovery and reduced pain. Potassium assists in the prevention of muscle cramping following exercise and helps you to heal from injury more quickly. Instead of having a high-sugar energy drinks that has synthetic vitamins and minerals, try having watermelon juice instead.
If you are trying to lose weight, you know that we all have those triggers that send us down the road of temptation, longing after something that we know isn’t the healthiest option. For many people, that thing is sweets. It isn’t just about the sweetness of sugary treats, but also about the texture and the mouthfeel. This is one reason why a might not satisfy you mentally in the same way as cheesecake.
However, watermelon brings something new to the dessert table. The texture of watermelon is almost like that of a dessert that melts in your mouth. It can be sliced and presented on a plate just like a piece of cake or pie. Watermelon satisfies the emotional craving as well as the physical one.
One more reason why watermelon helps you lose weight? Watermelon is mostly water, combined with an honorable content. This combination fills you up and leaves you satisfied longer than any sugary, fat laden dessert.
6. Is Good for Skin and Hair
Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.
Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.
Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn
7. Prevents Kidney Stones
Studies have shown that potassium found in fruits and vegetables like watermelon is very helpful in cleaning toxins and washing out waste from the blood, helping to prevent kidney stones.
Watermelon benefits also include being a natural diuretic, meaning it helps to increase urine production that takes waste out of the body with it. While caffeinated drinks and alcohol also act as diuretics, they put stress on the kidneys to do so, while watermelon does not.
8. Can Help Fight Cancer
The carotenoid phytonutrient lycopene that is present in watermelon has been linked to fighting breast and prostate cancer. Research has shown 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.
Watermelon is also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which help to fight free radical damage and stop DNA from harmfully mutating, leading to the formation of cancerous tumors. Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can enhance the cancer-fighting effect of certain drugs used in chemotherapy and that it it’s able to target only the harmful cells that are in need of these nutrients, unlike other drugs that usually kill healthy cells too.
Watermelon is rich in , which helps to regulate nerve function by facilitating the passage of electrical impulses and messages. Too little potassium can cause lack of nerve function, numbness and tingling. If you suffer from night time leg cramps, a potassium deficiency might also be the cause. Steer clear from these unpleasant side effects by enjoying a cup of watermelon which has approximately 170 mg of potassium.
10. Boosts Eye Health
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 or a thickening of the cornea and eventually even to blindness.
Watermelon is a great supplier of beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants, which plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.
Every summer, thousands fall victim to heat stroke, with more than two hundred people dying from the condition annually in the United States. Heat stroke is not just about being a little overheated. It is a serious condition that requires medical attention.
Watermelon, which is mostly water and contains electrolytes, can help negate the effects of the heat in the summertime and potentially reduce the risk of suffering heat stroke. If someone looks like they aren’t handling the heat well, offer them some watermelon. If they appear to be suffering from the symptoms of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
Watermelon is not known to be a common allergen or produce any common medication interactions. However, watermelon is best enjoyed by all in moderation due to its relatively high sugar content. Because watermelon contains a high amount of sugar and carbohydrates, but practically no protein or healthy fats, eating large amounts can quickly spike blood sugar levels. For those who have a form of known insulin resistance, including those who are pre-diabetic or who have diabetes, it’s a better idea to go with lower sugar fruits that also have more fiber, like berries.