Watermelon is definitely one of the coolest fruits available. This delicious fruit makes for a refreshing treat during summer. A typical watermelon can be described as a fruit belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family which also includes plants like cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin growing on vines. It is believed to have originated in Southern African countries and is now widely grown in tropical regions. Externally, the fruit resembles a large melon featuring smooth, deep green or yellow colored thick skin with light green or grey vertical stripes. The inner flesh is juicy and red, pink or yellow in color with small black, edible seeds embedded in the middle of the flesh. It has a mild, sweet taste which resembles that of light sugar syrup. In fact, as evident from its name, it comprises of nearly 91% water and 9% sugar.
Though widely consumed as a fruit, some people often consider watermelon as a vegetable. This is because it is related to the squash and pumpkin family and grown in a manner similar to a vegetable crop. In fact, in China it used as a vegetable where it is stir fried, stewed or made into a pickle. Basically, it is the ripened ovary of a seed plant and its contents botanically make it a fruit. There are several varieties of watermelon which vary in shape, size and color of the flesh.
Health Benefits of Watermelon:
Watermelon is not only an excellent thirst quencher but also an effective ingredient to provide your body with the antioxidant, lycopene and Vitamin A as well as other nutrients. No doubt, it is associated with several health benefits as given below.
1. Heart Health:
The American Heart Association has certified watermelon as a heart healthy food. This benefit can be attributed to the presence of significant amounts of potassium which is an important component of cells and body fluids that control heart rate and blood pressure. In this way, it offers protection against stroke and coronary heart disease.
2. Anti-cancer Properties:
Watermelon is one of the best dietary sources of lycopene among fresh fruits and vegetables. Lycopene, being a powerful antioxidant, can neutralize oxygen radicals even better than beta-carotene and Vitamin E. It has been found to be beneficial in preventing breast, prostate and endometrial cancers as well as lung and colon cancer.
3. Normalizes High Blood Pressure:
Certain studies have shown that watermelon extract supplements are effective in normalizing high blood pressure in obese and middle-aged people. The fair amount of potassium in watermelon helps in alleviating hypertension and even stroke.
4. Improves Sleep:
Watermelon plays an important role in improving our sleep because of the presence of polysaccharide carbohydrates which improve the body’s output of serotonin. An increase in serotonin levels at night makes your brain less sensitive to disruptive stimuli such as noises, thus promoting peaceful sleep. Consumption of a few slices of watermelon after dinner can extend the deep sleep stages of sleep by 27%.
5. Natural Viagra:
This fruit has been hailed as a “Natural Viagra” when it comes to improving circulation and relaxing blood circulation. This can be attributed to arginine which boosts nitric oxide, thus relaxing the blood vessels to treat and prevent erectile dysfunction. Consumption of this fruit can really have a positive effect on the libido, thus making it a good pre-romantic appetizer.
6. Weight Loss:
In spite of being sweet and filling, this big green fruit is low in calories and contains almost no fat or cholesterol. Moreover, it contains high levels of a compound called citrulline which is converted into the essential amino acid, arginine inside the body. High levels of arginine reduce the rate at which the body stores fat and improve cardiovascular functioning. Improvement in arginine concentrations in the blood after consuming watermelon leads to improved weight loss. One can undoubtedly consider watermelon for weight loss benefit.
7. Relieves Sore Muscles:
Consuming watermelon is an effective way of alleviating the pain associated with muscle soreness. Athletes often drink watermelon juice after a hard workout. This is because the citrullline in watermelon gets converted to L-arginine, an essential amino acid which helps treat post-exercise muscle soreness as well as reduces next day muscle soreness.
8. Other Benefits:
Being a natural diuretic, watermelon was used as a homeopathic treatment for patients before the invention of dialysis. As stated earlier, it is a very good source of potassium which supports muscle and nerve function. It can also soothe inflammation, thus preventing conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes and arthritis.
Skin Benefits of Watermelon:
The benefits of watermelon would be incomplete without talking about its numerous benefits related to skincare. Like most fruits, this is also loaded with skin-friendly vitamins and antioxidants which contribute to the following watermelon benefits for skin.
9. Skin Hydration:
As mentioned earlier, watermelon comprises of nearly 91% water which keeps your body hydrated during the summer months. Proper hydration imparts a healthy glow to your skin as well as boosts the production of collagen to make your skin firm and youthful. You can simply grate a watermelon, squeeze out its juice and apply it on your face for 15 minutes. Then wash off with hot water first and then, with cold water. This will leave your skin clean and fresh.
10. Anti-ageing Benefits:
Watermelon is an excellent source of antioxidants such as lycopene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. These antioxidants fight the free radicals, thus stopping all signs of skin ageing like wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. Lycopene, in particular, scavenges the UV-induced free radicals that can cause sunburn and wrinkling. Besides, watermelon is a natural diuretic which gently flushes out toxins from your body and cleanses your system to reveal youthful skin. Thus, consuming two cups of watermelon daily or applying it on your skin can reduce the risk of sun-related skin damage by 40%.
11. Natural Toner:
This juicy fruit has astringent properties which make it a great toner. You can simply apply watermelon slices or blend it with other ingredients to get the best results. If you have dry skin, you can prepare a natural toner by mixing watermelon juice with honey. For oily skin, you can mix a cup of watermelon juice with 2 tablespoons of witch hazelnut and add 2 spoons of water. Dip a cotton pad in this solution and dab it all over your face and neck. Ensure that the cleanser is wiped away. This will exfoliate, refresh and tighten your skin.
12. Eliminates Excess Oil:
Watermelon is a rich source of Vitamin A which reduces pore size and minimizes excess oil secretion from the sebaceous glands. Applying watermelon extract on your face rejuvenates and revitalizes dull and boring skin. To close open pores, you can mix watermelon juice with crushed mint leaves and freeze the mixture. Rub these ice cubes on your skin. This will impart a cooling and soothing effect to your skin.
13. Treatment of Acne:
Daily application of watermelon juice on your skin is a natural remedy to cure acne. If you have acne or pimple-prone skin, you can dab a cotton ball in watermelon juice extract and apply it all over your face after cleansing it. Wash off with cold water after 15 minutes. You can also prepare a face pack by combining watermelon juice with honey and yoghurt. To minimize the occurrence of acne and pimples, it is advisable to include watermelon in your diet and skin care regime.
14. Healing Qualities:
Watermelon speeds up the healing of wounds and other skin problems. This is because it contains citrulline which the body converts to arginine. This amino acid speeds up the delivery of white blood cells to injury sites as well as spurs the growth of new skin tissue. These processes result in the healing of your skin three times faster.
Hair Benefits of Watermelon:
Watermelon for hair is very beneficial as it is loaded with health-benefiting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
15. Prevents Hair Loss:
Watermelon is a good source of Vitamin C which is vital for hair health. This vitamin enables your body to utilize non-heme iron (found in vegetables) to ensure that there is enough iron in the red blood cells to carry oxygen to the hair follicles. It is also involved in collagen formation. Collagen is required for healthy hair and optimal growth. Even minor Vitamin C deficiencies can cause your hair to become dry and brittle.
16. Promotes Hair Growth:
Watermelon seeds are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and omega 6 fatty acids. All these nutrients play an important role in keeping your hair long and lustrous.
17. Hair Moisturizer:
Oil extracted from watermelon seeds is extremely light in texture which makes it a great moisturizer for your hair.
Watermelon is a great combination of refreshing taste and healthy nutrients. It is unusually high in the carotenoid, lycopene and a rich source of phenolic antioxidants. It is also rich in cucurbitacin E, a triterpene anti-inflammatory phytonutrient and the amino acid, citrulline. Its nutritional value is explained below.
See the table below for an in-depth analysis of its nutrients:
| Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), fresh, Nutritive Value per 100 g,|
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.15 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.4 g||1%|
|Vitamins||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Pantothenic acid||0.221 mg||4.5%|
|Vitamin A||569 IU||19%|
|Vitamin C||8.1 mg||13.5%|
|Vitamin E||0.05 mg||0.5%|
|Electrolytes||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Minerals||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Phyto-nutrients||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
Calories: Watermelon is a moderate source of energy. It is low in calories with a 100 grams serving of this fruit providing just 30 calories while one cup of diced watermelon provides 46 calories. Bulk of the watermelon comprises of water.
Carbohydrates: Most of the calories of watermelon come from its sugar content. A 100 grams serving of this fruit provides approximately 7.5 grams of carbohydrates. Fructose is a natural fruit sugar that comprises of majority of the sugar content of watermelon, providing it with a sweet taste.
Dietary Fiber: Watermelon is a moderate source of dietary fiber with 100 grams serving providing 0.4 grams of fiber.
Vitamins: Watermelon contains several essential vitamins. It is particularly rich in Vitamin A with 100 grams fresh fruit providing 569 mg or 19% of the recommended daily amount of this vitamin. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and Vitamin C.
Minerals: Watermelon is a good source of potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure. It also contains good amounts of manganese which is a co-factor of the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Lycopene: Watermelon is unusually abundant in the carotenoid pigment, lycopene. A 100 grams serving of fresh watermelon provides 4532 µg lycopene which is superior to raw red tomato that provides just 2573 µg of lycopene.
Watermelon during Pregnancy:
The question often arises as to whether it is safe to consume watermelon during pregnancy. Pregnant women require extra nutrition for themselves as well as for the growing baby. Eating watermelon provides the necessary hydration and also reduces some of the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy. This fruit is packed with vitamins A, C and B6 as well as potassium and magnesium which are vital for the development of the baby’s vision, brain, nervous and immune systems. Potassium, on the other hand, regulates water balance in the blood and body tissues during pregnancy. Proper hydration helps to prevent pregnancy fatigue and flushes out toxins. Snacking on fresh watermelon helps alleviate feelings of nausea and morning sickness experienced during pregnancy. Potassium and magnesium can alleviate muscle cramps which are caused in the third trimester of pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association recommends consumption of three servings of watermelon per day during pregnancy.
According to the “International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics”, excess consumption of foods high in lycopene like watermelon, can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy. This condition can have serious negative effects on both the mother and the child. Abundant intake of lycopene during pregnancy reduces the risk of the baby from suffering from intrauterine growth retardation. Thus, watermelon is absolutely safe for consumption during pregnancy.