The unofficial kickoff of peak watermelon season is in full swing, making it the ideal time of the year to load up on these magnanimous, sweet, ultra-hydrating melons. As nature’s candy, all melons bring their own nutrition-packed power to the table. Watermelons are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and a slew of other nutrients, and what makes them especially unique is that this sweet treat is actually a low-sugar fruit when compared cup-for-cup to other tropical fruits. (In fact, a single cup of cubed watermelon is only a meager 9 grams of sugar!)
While the light texture of watermelon, coupled with its low-caloric appeal, may make it an easy snack to indulge in, we all know that moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle, and having too much of a good thing generally comes with some form of consequence. So, is watermelon good for you?
To find out, we decided to analyze some of the benefits and side effects that have been scientifically linked to eating watermelon. Read on to learn what could potentially happen when you eat your fill of this sweet summertime fruit—and for more info on another refreshing, vitamin C-rich variety of nature’s candy, be sure to check out 7 Surprising Benefits of Eating Grapefruit, According to Dietitians.
A Look at Watermelon’s Nutrition Info
Yet, beyond watermelon’s nutritional composition and all the possible health benefits which stem from it, eating watermelon can potentially result in a few side effects—some of which may even surprise you! To understand the benefits of eating watermelon—while also keeping you in the know about some of the potential side effects of this fruit—let’s take a deep dive into the science behind what can happen to your body when you eat watermelon.
Juicy watermelon not only serves as a refreshing, sweet snack but also packs a host of health benefits. From hydration to blood pressure management, here are 12 ways that indulging in this melon can support your overall well-being.
Accounting for over 25% of your daily value of vitamin C, watermelon’s propensity to fortify your immune system is undeniably impeccable. Many studies have linked this essential vitamin to quality immune defense. In the case of fruit, in particular, research suggests that getting your vitamin C intake via nature’s candy can help to promote collagen production, which is critical to supporting cell structure and immune health.
12 Benefits of Eating Watermelon
When it comes to foods that can provide your body with hydration, watermelon stands (or grows) head and shoulders above the rest. Comprised of 92% water, it’s one of the highest-water-content foods on the planet. Keeping hydrated is essential to the healthy functionality of all your bodily functions; it prevents fatigue and sustains your energy, mitigates headaches, aids in flushing waste from the body, and improves skin tone and elasticity to help you retain your youthful good looks. So the next time you’re desperate to quench your thirst on a hot day but also want to hit your tastebuds with a zap of sweetness, consider cracking open a juicy watermelon!
3 Potentially Negative Side Effects of Eating Watermelon
One challenge to sticking with a consistent exercise schedule is anticipating the aches and pains that can soon follow after a hard workout, especially if you’re getting back into a physical fitness groove after a temporary hiatus. Although people may say “no pain, no gain,” I think we can all agree that a little less pain post-workout would certainly make exercise a more enjoyable experience—enter watermelon. One small 2013 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that athletes who drank watermelon juice amid exercise reported less soreness and slower heart rate 24 hours after working out. Researchers attribute this outcome to watermelon’s L-citrulline content, an organic amino acid that enables your arteries to relax and improve blood flow.
Watermelon is high in antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in the body, and left unchecked, free radicals have the ability to form cancer cells. But how does watermelon have the ability to do this? Well, much like other red-colored summertime fruit favorites (we’re looking at you, tomatoes), watermelon contains high amounts of lycopene, a potent antioxidant with cancer-preventive properties. Antioxidants like lycopene help fight cancer, promote anti-aging, and repair damaged cells in the body. While tomatoes may take all the credit for providing a good source of lycopene, watermelon actually provides nearly 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes!
Scientists have proposed that lycopene might protect against DNA damage, stop cancer cell growth, and boost enzymes that break down cancer-causing products, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In fact, a clinical trial published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggested that lycopene supplements may reduce the spread of localized prostate cancer.
Carotenoids like lycopene are associated with decreased risk of macular degeneration, an age-related wearing down of the retina that’s a leading cause of vision loss in people over age 60. Watermelon is rich in both lycopene and vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant that’s good for your vision. In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study of 5,000 people ages 55 to 89, researchers found that people with moderate macular degeneration slowed the progression of the disease after taking daily supplements containing beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
Satiety is the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Finding foods that enhance satiety are a recipe for success when trying to pay attention to portion size. Feeling satiated makes eating proper portions easier. One important contributing factor to satiety is the total volume of food consumed. Thus, being able to eat a greater quantity gives one the sensation of fullness. Watermelon offers this benefit due to its high water content. In other words, since the fruit is quite juicy, you can eat more of it for lower total calories when compared to other fruits.
Let’s break this down a bit: According to the USDA, a cup of watermelon chunks contains 170 milligrams of potassium. This essential electrolyte and mineral is helpful for lessening the effects of sodium on blood pressure and is also important for proper nervous system function, according to the Mayo Clinic. And in fact, a small study of 13 middle-aged obese men and women with hypertension at Florida State University found that watermelon could reduce blood pressure both at rest and while people were under stress. “The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract,” said associate professor Arturo Figueroa, author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.