Nothing tastes more summery than a crispy, juicy and refreshing slice of watermelon. It’s a staple of backyard barbecues and well-stocked at local farmer’s markets this time of year. Watermelon — which can actually be considered a fruit or vegetable, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board — is also incredibly nutritious.
Nutritionists say watermelon is low in calories and sugar and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making it a great addition to a healthy diet. Plus, it’s fun to eat! “Eating watermelon makes me feel Carefreelike a kid again on a summer picnic enjoying the great outdoors with the people I care about the most,” he says. Kris Solid, MS, RDsenior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council.
Here’s an overview of some of the best watermelon health benefits, according to nutritionists.
Watermelon nutritional information
According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of watermelon (152 g) contains:
- Calories: 45.6
- Fat: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 1.52mg
- Carbohydrates: 11.5g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Vitamin C: 12.3mg
- Potassium: 170mg
- Calcium: 10mg
- Vitamin A: 865 IU
- Lycopene: 6,890 micrograms
Is it okay to eat watermelon every day?
Only about 10% of Americans eat the recommended two cups of fruit a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because it is low in calories and sugar, you can safely eat several servings of watermelon every day without guessing any long-term dietary impact — but Sollid says it’s best for your dietary health to try to vary the types of fruit you eat. Different fruits contain different nutrients, so eating a variety will ensure your body gets everything it needs.
Is it really possible to eat a lot anythingincluding watermelon, adds Grace Derocha, RDN, CDCES, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While it can be tempting to consume half or more of a whole watermelon at once on a hot summer afternoon, experts like Derocha say it’s best to eat a cup at a time as a general recommendation, rather than a whole fruit.
Watermelon is considered a fruit high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), meaning it contains short-chain sugars that some people have a hard time digesting, says Derocha, so “it can cause bloating or discomfort.” when consumed in large quantities.”
People with diabetes or who need to count their carb servings should also pay attention to their watermelon intake, she adds. Eating too much fruit can introduce too much sugar into your diet, leading to blood sugar fluctuations, which can be risky for people with diabetes.
What are the health benefits of watermelon?
“Watermelon is a naturally low-calorie package,” says Christina Meyer-Jax, RDN, LDN, chair of standard process nutrition and assistant professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University. “Contributes key antioxidant nutrients that support disease prevention and overall well-being.”
Here are 11 health benefits of watermelon:
1) It is loaded with essential nutrients
In only 46 calories per cup, watermelon packs a punch when it comes to nutrients. It contains about 15% of your daily vitamin C needs, along with a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamin A and B6, says Sollid.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps the body absorb iron, says Derocha, while vitamin A is crucial for skin and eye health. Watermelon is also rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure and supports nerve function, and vitamin B6, which helps the body break down the proteins you eat and also boosts your immune system and nerve function.
2) Offers a large dose of lycopene
Lycopene is a natural compound found in watermelon and other fruits and vegetables that has antioxidant properties. The substance is also what gives watermelon its red color; but in addition to its hue, lycopene is also good for you. Meyer-Jax says it has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders. Lycopene works to protect your cells from damage, says Sollid, and research suggests it may have blood pressure-lowering effects when consumed regularly through the diet.
3) Watermelon helps keep you hydrated
Watermelon is made up of more than 90% water. “As the name implies, watermelon can keep you hydrated,” explains Derocha.
Most adults don’t drink enough water, and hydration is particularly important in the summer, when temperatures rise and you can lose fluid through sweating.
Meyer-Jax recommends eating watermelon sprinkled with a little salt after a workout or when you’ve been sweating for an extended period of time. “The combination of carbs and salt is ideal for replacing lost electrolytes and carbohydrate stores,” she says.
4) Contributes to healthy digestion
Watermelon contains a high water content and a small amount of fiber. “Both are key to keeping digestion moving,” says Meyer-Jax. Fiber adds bulk to your stool and keeps it regular, while water helps move waste through your digestive system.
5) It can help with weight management
Choosing watermelon over another sweet snack can help you feel fuller for longer, explains Meyer-Jax. Limited research published in the journal nutrients in 2019 found that individuals considered overweight or clinically obese and who ate watermelon instead of low-fat crackers experienced greater satiety, for example. Eating watermelon daily was associated with a decrease in subjects’ body weight, body mass index, blood pressure and waist circumference.
6) May improve heart health
Research shows that consuming foods with lycopene can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2012 study published in American Journal of Hypertension suggested a link between the fruit and heart disease, as research has suggested that watermelon extract can lower blood pressure for an extended period of time. “The authors suggested that L-citrulline and L-arginine – two of the antioxidants in watermelon – may improve artery function,” suggests Derocha.
7) May work to reduce cancer risk
The lycopene found in watermelon can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals (the unstable molecules the body naturally produces that can cause disease) and the body’s ability to fight their effects. Chronic inflammation can increase the risk of certain diseases, including cancer, and research shows that lycopene has the potential to reduce inflammation and stop the growth of cancer cells, which reduces the risk of disease. Studies have highlighted that increasing lycopene intake can reduce the risk of cancer of the digestive tract and prostate cancer.
8) Watermelon can help reduce inflammation
A specific combination of antioxidants, lycopene and vitamin C, found in watermelon, can decrease inflammation and oxidative damage over time, explains Derocha. Inflammation can cause swelling, pain, or redness of the skin for those who experience it. And chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases, including cancer, asthma, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
9) It’s great for your skin
“Water and vitamins A, B6 and C in watermelon help your skin stay soft, smooth and supple,” says Derocha. Vitamin C increases collagen production, which improves skin elasticity and blood flow to the skin. And vitamin A helps repair skin cells, preventing dry, flaky skin, while vitamin B6 helps with rashes.
Lycopene may play a role in protecting your skin from the sun, adds Derocha, making you less likely to get sunburned. But that definitely doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen, she emphasizes; It’s crucial to apply your choice of FPS regularly.
10) Can relieve sore muscles
A small study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that athletes who drank watermelon juice saw muscle soreness reduced for up to 24 hours. The juice also helped to slow the recovery heart rate. Researchers have linked watermelon juice’s ability to soothe sore muscles to its I-citrulline content, which is an amino acid that helps reduce muscle damage. While scientists need more concrete evidence to confirm the extent of this benefit, this link may lead you to consider adding watermelon juice to your post-workout routine.
11) Watermelon seeds and rind are also nutritious
When eating fresh watermelon, most people cling to red or pink meat. But you can also eat the bark and seeds as they offer their own holistic health benefits.
The rinds are lower in sugar and higher in fiber than the pulp of a watermelon, says Meyer-Jax: “When eaten with the rest of the cantaloupe, it helps slow the absorption of sugar in the gut and smoothes the rise in sugar in the gut. blood”. Watermelon rinds also contain L-citrullinewhich can lower blood pressure and increase athletic performance.
Watermelon seeds, which can be eaten raw or dried, are rich in magnesium — which Derocha explains plays a key role in energy production, nerve function, DNA and protein synthesis, as well as blood pressure regulation. They also contain folate, which can help with cancer and depression risk. The seeds are good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which protect against heart attacks and strokes and reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
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