Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that is also good for you.
It’s only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and many healthy plant compounds.
Here are the top 9 health benefits of eating watermelon.
1. Helps you hydrate
Drinking water is an important way to keep your body hydrated.
However, consuming water-rich foods can also help. Interestingly, watermelon is 92% water (1).
Plus, high water content is one of the reasons fruits and vegetables help you feel full.
The combination of water and fiber means you eat a good volume of food without too many calories.
2. Contains Nutrients and Helpful Plant
When it comes to fruit, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories – just 46 calories per cup (154 grams). This is less than even low-sugar fruits such as berries.
One cup (154 grams) of watermelon contains many other nutrients, including the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C: 21% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin A: 18% of RDI
- Potassium: 5% of RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
- Vitamins B1, B5, and B6: 3% of the RDI
Watermelon is also rich in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. In addition, it contains citrulline, an important amino acid.
Here is an overview of the main antioxidants in watermelon:
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals.
Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that does not convert to vitamin A. This powerful antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon and is associated with numerous health benefits.
Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.
3. Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent
Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects.
Although lycopene consumption is associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, study results are mixed. So far, the strongest link seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system.
It appears to reduce the risk of cancer by decreasing insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein involved in cell division. High levels of IGF are linked to cancer.
Additionally, cucurbitacin E has been studied for its ability to inhibit tumor growth.
4. May Improve Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Lifestyle factors, including diet, can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.
Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It may also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.
According to studies in obese, postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls.
Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that can increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure.
The other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium, and potassium.
5. May Reduce Inflammation and
Inflammation is a key factor in many chronic diseases.
Watermelon can help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage because it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C.
In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared to the control group, they developed lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, and less oxidative stress.
In a previous study, lycopene-rich tomato juice and vitamin C were given to humans. Overall, their inflammation markers decreased and antioxidants increased. Watermelon contains lycopene and vitamin C.
As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
Lycopene is present in several parts of the eye that help protects against oxidative damage and inflammation.
It can also prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older people.
Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound could help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.
For more information on how to keep your eyes healthy, read the 9 most important vitamins for eye health.
7. May Help Relieve Muscle Pain
Citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon, can reduce muscle pain. It is also available at an additional cost.
Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to improve citrulline absorption.
A small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline, or a glass of citrulline. Both watermelon drinks resulted in less muscle soreness and faster heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline alone.
The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment on the absorption of citrulline. Their results suggest that citrulline absorption is more efficient when consumed as a component of watermelon juice.
Other research has also looked at citrulline’s potential to improve physical endurance and performance.
So far, citrulline does not appear to improve exercise performance with the amounts studied but remains an area of research interest.
8. is good for skin and hair
Two vitamins in watermelon – A and C – are important for healthy skin and hair.
Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.
Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin as it helps build and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin may appear dry and scaly.
Lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn.
9. May Improve Digestion
Watermelon contains a lot of water and a small amount of fiber, two important factors for healthy digestion.
Fiber can provide bulk to your stool, while water helps your digestive tract move efficiently.
Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in water and fiber, including watermelon, can be very helpful in promoting normal bowel movements.
The final result
Watermelon is a surprisingly healthy fruit. It is high in water and provides many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C.
These nutrients mean that watermelon is not only a tasty, low-calorie treat, but it is also very good for your health.