Watermelon Lives Up to its Weight in Nutritional Value4 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Your favorite summertime fruit may not even really be a fruit! Many sources report that watermelon is really a vegetable that is part of the cucumber family. Fruit or vegetable, watermelon is a delicious and popular food around the world. There are more than 1,000 varieties of watermelon grown worldwide, and watermelon is grown in more than 90 countries worldwide.
In China and Japan, watermelon is a popular gift to give the host of a party. Not only is watermelon juicy, refreshing, sweet, delicious and void of fat and cholesterol, it also packs a multitude of health benefits.
It may help fight inflammation and, therefore, fight disease.
Watermelon is full of anti-inflammatory compounds like lycopene. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an underlying cause of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, is chronic inflammation. “Lycopene has been shown to have anticancer activity against breast cancers by a variety of mechanisms and with varied potency depending on the genetic mutations of the cancer,” reports NIH. “Dietary lycopene has been associated with decreased risk of death from prostate cancer.”
It may reduce muscle soreness.
Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that may help provide relief from sore muscles, according to a study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In the study, participants were given either natural watermelon juice, watermelon juice with added L-citrulline or just a juice without L-citrulline an hour before a period of exercise. Participants who drank the natural watermelon juice or the juice with added L-citrulline reported less muscle soreness 24 hours post workout. The important take away from this study is watermelon juice in its natural form was just as beneficial as the enhanced juice.
It may help prevent dehydration.
Watermelon definitely lives up to its name, because it is more than 90% water. We all know drinking enough water is key in preventing dehydration, especially during summer months and intense workouts. But let’s face it, drinking plain old water can get boring. Watermelon may be a great and delicious way to increase your daily water intake. It’s especially important to hydrate your body when you first wake up, because you naturally wake up dehydrated after sleeping for several hours. If you are otherwise healthy, you may want to consider watermelon for breakfast to hydrate first thing in the morning.
If your kids play sports, send them off with watermelon to keep them hydrated and energized. Watermelon is also a great snack to take to the beach or eat before or after your workout.
We also know when we partake in summer festivities we may go overboard on the booze and have to endure the dreaded hangover. Consider snacking on watermelon between drinking cocktails at your next barbeque. If you are hosting a party, you might consider treating your guests to a refreshing watermelon cocktail.
It may help prevent kidney stones.
Because of its high water content, water is a natural diuretic, which means it removes waste due to increased urine production. According to Harvard Health, your water intake is key in helping prevent kidney stones. “Drinking extra water dilutes the substances in urine that lead to stones. Strive to drink enough fluids to pass 2 liters of urine a day, which is roughly eight standard 8-ounce cups,” reports Harvard.
It may boost your immunity.
One cup of watermelon contains 12.5 mg of vitamin C. This vitamin has proven to improve immune function and shorten the duration of certain ailments, including the common cold. On top of that, vitamin C may help wounds heal more rapidly. This includes wounds after surgery.
It may help your vision.
Watermelon is very rich in vitamin A, an antioxidant that may help maintain healthy vision, especially as you age. Vitamin A also reportedly maintains healthy skin and helps with neurological and reproductive function.
Need more reasons on why you should eat watermelon?
Just one cup of watermelon contains additional vitamins and minerals including:
- Calcium, 11 mg. Of course, calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. This mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
- Magnesium, 15 mg. Magnesium helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.
- Phosphorus, 17mg. Adults 19 and older usually need about 700 mg. of phosphorus daily. This mineral often does not get the credit it deserves, but it does so much for your body. Phosphorus is almost as abundant in your body as calcium and helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also important for how your body stores and uses energy, repairs cells and is needed to make proteins like the one responsible for the oxygen-carrying capabilities of our red blood cells. This mineral has also been linked to weight management. In a study of almost 40,000 women in Korea, phosphorus deficiency correlated with weight gain from oral contraceptives. Furthermore, a study from Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
- Potassium, 170 mg. If you are an athlete or like to be proactive about your health by working out, potassium can help with muscle cramps. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. The loss of potassium can cause cramping. Along with the L-citrulline amino acid discussed above, you get two weapons for muscle cramps and soreness for the price of one when you eat watermelon.
Healthy food is medicine and one of the best ways we can be proactive about our health and wellness. A good diet of healthy foods may provide us with the nutrients we need to avoid sickness and stay well. And with healthy foods, we may have a stronger immune system, so that we can recover quicker even when we get sick. So consider changing up your diet and incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables. Check out some healthy recipes that incorporate watermelon here.
I also recommend trying this Gluten-Free Asian Watermelon Turkey Bowl. This delicious recipe combines a healthy, lean protein with watermelon and other fresh ingredients like ginger, basil, carrot, cucumber and so much more!
Enjoy your healthy life!
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