Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts of Watermelon

INTRODUCING THE HEALTH BENEFITS AND NUTRITION FACTS OF WATERMELON

The scientific name for watermelon is Citrullus lanatus. The watermelon is a large fruit with a sweet taste. It is native to South Africa. The watermelon belongs to the same family as the zucchini, cantaloupe, cucumber, and pumpkin.

The watermelon is loaded with nutrients and water. It has very little amount of calories, and is very refreshing to the body.

As a plus, watermelon is rich in Citrulline, and lycopene. Both compounds are very potent phytochemicals.

There are many health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon. These health benefits include reduced muscle soreness, improvement in insulin sensitivity, and reduced blood pressure.

Watermelons are mainly consumed fresh. However, you may also freeze them, make them into juices or smoothies.

This article will give a detailed description of the health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon.

Health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon
Photo Credit: AzerNews

NUTRITION FACTS OF WATERMELON

The two most important components of watermelon are fiber and water. Watermelon is 91% water (perhaps that’s why it is called watermelon), and 7.5% fiber. It contains very little protein and or fat, and also has very low calories.

You can get the following nutrients from 100 grams of watermelon (1):

  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Sugar: 6.2g
  • Carbs: 7.6g
  • Protein: 0.6g
  • Water: 91%
  • Calories: 30

Carbs

For a cup of watermelon, you are sure of getting 12 grams of carbs.

The carbs in watermelon are mostly sucrose, fructose, and glucose – all simple sugars. Watermelon also has a small fiber content.

Watermelon has a glycemic index of 72-80. This is quite high. Glycemic index refers to the rate at which certain foods raise the blood sugar level after you’ve eaten them (2).

It is important to note that each serving of watermelon gives you just the right amount of carbs, so your blood sugar level will not really be affected.

Fibers

Watermelon is not rich in fiber. For every 100 grams of watermelon, you only get 0.4g of fiber.

However, because of its high fructose content, watermelon is believed to be high in FODMAPs (3).

When you eat excess of fructose, you may experience some unpleasant sensations in your digestive system (for individuals who cannot digest them) (4).

These are important health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon

Vitamins and minerals

Watermelon is loaded with vitamin C. It is also rich in other vitamins and minerals.

  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant. It is essential for immune function and skin health (5, 6).
  • Potassium. Potassium helps in the regulation of blood pressure. It is also important for good heart health (7).
  • Copper. Copper is very high in plant-based foods. Sadly, most Western diets are deficient in copper (8).
  • Vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 is also present in plant foods. It is also known as pantothenic acid.
  • Vitamin A. Watermelon is rich in beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A by the body.

These are important health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon

OTHER PHYTOCHEMICALS PRESENT IN WATERMELON

Watermelon does not have much antioxidants, compared to other fruits (9).

However, it is loaded with lycopene and Citrulline. Both phytochemicals have abundant health benefits (10).

Citrulline

Of all the plants that contain lycopene, watermelon is the richest source. Citrulline is an amino acid. The white rind of the watermelon is the reservoir of Citrulline (9, 11, 12).

The body converts Citrulline into arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid.

Arginine and citrulline are important in nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide helps to reduce blood pressure by causing dilation and ultimately, relaxation of blood vessels (13).

Arginine also helps in the proper functioning of many organs such as the liver, the reproductive systems, the lungs, the immune system, and the kidneys. Studies have shown that Arginine also helps the wounds to heal faster (14, 15, 16).

Research has shown that the juice of watermelon is also rich in Citrulline and Arginine and can increase the blood levels of both compounds (15, 17, 18).

It is important to note that although watermelon has a high amount of Citrulline, in order to get the Reference Daily Intake, you’d have to take in no less than 15 cups (or 2.3kg) for arginine (19).

Lycopene

Watermelon is also rich in lycopene. Frankly, lycopene is a very potent antioxidant. Lycopene is a responsible for the red color of watermelon (20, 21, 22, 23).

As a matter of fact, the quality and amount of lycopene in watermelon is high than that of tomatoes (1).

Clinical studies have shown that fresh watermelon juice can increase the blood levels of beta-carotene and lycopene (24).

Lycopene is converted to beta carotene in the body. The beta carotene is then converted to vitamin A.

These are important health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON

Watermelon has many health benefits.

Reduces blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure contributes greatly to chronic disease and mortality (25).

We have established that watermelon has a high amount of Citrulline, which the body converts to arginine. Both compounds are important for the formation of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that causes relaxation of, and dilation of blood vessels (and smooth muscles). This helps to reduce blood pressure (26).

When you take watermelon or its juice, you will be able to reduce arterial stiffness and blood pressure in a person with high blood pressure (27, 28, 29, 30). These are important health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon.

Increases insulin sensitivity

Insulin is hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin helps in regulation of blood sugar.

A person is said to become resistant to insulin when the cells of his or her body become resistant to the effects of insulin. This causes an increase in blood sugar levels and is associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Studies have shown that arginine and watermelon juice helps to improve insulin sensitivity (31, 32, 33).

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It helps to reduce the muscle soreness that is associated with exercise

Muscle soreness is one of the after effects of high intensity exercise.

A particular study has shown that the juice of watermelon helps to reduce soreness of the muscle after an exercise (34).

We have had mixed results on the effects of Citrulline or watermelon juice on exercise performance. While one study did not find any effect whatsoever, another study showed that watermelon could improve exercise performance in untrained individuals (35, 36).

These are important health benefits and nutrition facts of watermelon.

DOES WATERMELON HAVE ANY ADVERSE EFFECTS?

Most people have a good tolerance level for watermelon.

However, some people may be allergic to it.

Allergy

Allergy to watermelon is not a common occurrence. However it may happen in those who have a high sensitivity to pollen (37, 38).

Symptoms that are associated with watermelon allergy include swelling of the tongue, ears, lips, and throat (39).

THE FODMAPS STATUS OF WATERMELON

Watermelon is rich in fructose. Most people do not readily digest fructose.

Fructose causes some irritating effects in the digestive system, such as abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and gas.

People who have a high sensitivity to FODMAPs, like those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), should avoid watermelons.

THE SUMMARY

Watermelon is quite healthy and nutritious.

It is rich in lycopene and Citrulline. Both compounds play a very important role in reduction of blood pressure, reduced muscle soreness, and improvement in metabolic health.

Watermelon also has a very good taste, and has a high water content, making it very good for hydration.

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