Watermelon is a popular fruit eaten by most people for its cool, refreshing sweetness and high water content. Incidentally it takes its name from water! It is closely related to cucumber, pumpkin, and squash and it is believed to have originated in Egypt close to 5,000 years ago, where it is depicted in hieroglyphics. Watermelon is more than just delicious… it is a super-healthy addition to your diet, but must be taken in moderation.
One must be careful when taking watermelon. It should be taken alone. Hence no food should be eaten 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after eating melons. Below are facts you need to know about the health benefits of watermelon
1. Watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes
Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a pink or red color. It is most often associated with tomatoes, but watermelon is actually a more concentrated source.
Compared to a large fresh tomato, one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene (6 milligrams (mg) in watermelon compared to 4 mg in a tomato).
2. Watermelon juice may relieve muscle soreness
If you have a juicer, try juicing about one-third of a fresh watermelon and drinking its juice prior to your next workout. This contains a little over one gram of l-citrulline, an amino acid that seems to protect against muscle pain.
One study found that men who drank natural unpasteurized watermelon juice prior to their workouts had reduced muscle soreness 24 hours later compared to those who drank a placebo.
You do need to be careful with drinking watermelon juice, though, as it contains a significant amount of fructose. It may be better to eat the entire fruit, or opt for these other tips to prevent muscle soreness.
3. Watermelon is a fruit and a vegetable
Another interesting thing about watermelon is that it is both a fruit and a vegetable. Most people do not know
that the rind is entirely edible.
4. You can eat watermelon rind and seeds
Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but blending it with some lime produces a healthy, refreshing drink. Not only does the rind contain plenty of health-promoting and blood- building chlorophyll, but the rind actually contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh.
Citrulline is converted to arginine in the kidneys. Citrulline is important for heart health and for maintaining the immune system. It has been found through research to have potential therapeutic value in over 100 health conditions.
While many people prefer seedless watermelon varieties, black water- melon seeds are edible and actually quite healthy. They contain iron, zinc, protein, and fiber.
5. It is mostly water
This might not be surprising, but it’s still a fun fact; watermelon is more than 91 percent water. This means that eating watermelon on a hot day is a tasty way to help keep the body hydrated and avoid dehydration. However, it is not a substitute for drinking plenty of fresh water.
6. Some watermelon are yellow
The Yellow Crimson watermelon has yellow flesh with a sweeter, honey flavour than the more popular pink-fleshed Crimson Sweet. It’s likely that yellow watermelon offers its own unique set of nutritional benefits, but most research to date has focused on the pink-fleshed varieties.
7. Watermelon extract may significantly reduce blood pressure
New research also highlights the role of watermelon nutrients on heart attack prevention, via a significant reduction in blood pressure. Obese people who participated in study, and received citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract had significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress, both while at rest and undergoing a stressful cold-water test.
“Watermelon supplementation reduced aortic BP [blood pressure] and myocardial oxygen demand during CPT [cold pressor test] and the magnitude of the cold-induced increase in wave reflection in obese adults with hypertension. Watermelon may provide cardio-protection by attenuating cold-induced aortic hemodynamic responses.”
Remember, in your body the citrulline in watermelon is converted into L-arginine, which is a precursor to nitric oxide. Adequate nitric oxide is required to enable you blood vessels to stay relaxed and open for blood flow,
which is one reason why it may help lower blood pressure.
8. Lycopene and good health
Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, with upwards of 6,500 micrograms (6.5 mg) in less than half a cup (the red-fleshed varieties will contain significantly more lycopene than yellow-fleshed watermelon).
Also noteworthy, the lycopene in watermelon appears to be quite stable, with little deterioration occurring even after it’s been cut and stored in the refrigerator for more than two days. In one study, it took about seven days of
storage for the lycopene to deteriorate, and then it was only by about 6 percent to 11 percent.
So what makes lycopene so important? Lycopene’s antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than that of other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. In one study, after controlling for other stroke risk factors, such as older age and diabetes, they found that men with the highest blood levels of lycopene were
55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest.
A 2014 meta-analysis also revealed that lycopene decreased stroke risk (including stroke occurrence or mortality) by more than 19 percent. In addition to lowering your risk of stroke, lycopene has been shown to have potential anti-cancer activity, likely due to its potent antioxidant properties.
One study found that lycopene treatment reduced the growth of brain tumors while another showed frequent
lycopene intake suppressed breast tumor growth in mice.
9. Sexual Health and inflammation
L-arginine may also help with erectile dysfunction by helping to relax your blood vessels, including those supplying blood to the penis – and that’s why watermelon is sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Viagra.” In fact, citrulline supplementation has been found to improve erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. It’s rich in anti-inflammatory substances.
For instance, watermelon contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant lycopene as well as cucurbitacin E, or tripterpenoid, which reduces the activity of the pain and inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase – the same enzyme blocked by COX-2 inhibitors, which include most NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. While being very low in calories (about 46 calories in a cup), watermelon also contains an impressive variety of other important nutrients including: vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin A and magnesium.
HOW TO PICK PERFECT WATERMELON
Cutting into a watermelon and finding out it lacks flavour is disappointing. There’s a trick you can use
to pick out a ripe watermelon, either from your farmer’s market or your own melon patch. Look for a pale, buttery-yellow spot (not white or green) on the bottom. This is where the watermelon sits on the ground ripening, and it’s one of the best indicators of ripeness you can use (even commercial watermelon pickers use this as a gauge).
Other tricks for picking a ripe watermelon include: it should be heavy for its size; smooth rind with a dull top (the top is the side opposite the ground spot); the thump test (this is controversial, but ripe watermelon is said to have a hollow bass sound).
Store your watermelon in a cool area until it is cut. Cut watermelon should be refrigerated (and be sure to wipe off your watermelon with a damp cloth prior to cutting it). Remember, try the rind blended with some lime juice rather than simply tossing it in the trash (choose an organic water- melon especially if you’ll be eating the rind).
Finally, watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose, which is a simple sugar that can be absorbed straight into the blood stream by cells in the tissues of the mouth, throat and the stomach. That is why if you are overweight or have diabetes or high blood pressure.
►Adapted from Mercola Health Resources