Watermelon is not just a summer picnic staple, it is a powerhouse when it comes to adding nutrients to our daily diet. Packed with a high water content, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, lycopene, and L-citrulline, one serving of watermelon will aid you in your quest for a vibrant, fit, and healthy lifestyle.
Read on to learn exactly what the health benefits of a watermelon are!
Nutrients in a Watermelon
No matter how you slice it, watermelon is a healthy and juicy summer pleasure. One cup of the sweet fruit contains only 46 calories, 11.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.2 grams of fat, and 0.9 grams of protein. To partner with the low caloric intake, watermelon offers 21% of the Daily Values (DV) of Vitamin C, 18% of the DV of Vitamin A, and has an estimated glycemic load of 3%.
Plus, watermelon is 90% water which is why we love eating it on a hot summer day. Just one cup of watermelon’s high water content juiciness can refresh and energize you after a good summer workout, too!
The health benefits of watermelon make it more than just a summer side dish or dessert option. Let’s take a closer look at the specific nutrients:
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in watermelon, and in particular a cis-isometric lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene may have a therapeutic role in the fight against oxidative stress, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Bring on the lycopene!
L-citrulline is an amino acid found in watermelon. A recently published study shows that supplementing your diet with L-citrulline offers beneficial cardio vascular improvement related to heart disease issues. The research showed that it reduced resting blood pressure offering a positive response for people with prehypertension and hypertension. Additionally, it was shown to improve fitness performance in young adults.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin in the human body. Vitamin A supports vision and skin health, in addition to cell growth and your immune system.
Vitamin C supports your immune health, aids your body in the absorption of iron, and and is an important vitamin used in your body’s healing process. Lots of citrus fruits and foods like watermelon will help keep our immune defenses high.
Vitamin B6 is an important tool to help the human body break down protein. It is also instrumental in bolstering your immune system and improving nerve function.
Health Benefits of a Watermelon
Go ahead, dive in face first, your body will be delighted with all the wonderful goodies packed into that pretty red fruit. The amazing health benefits of watermelon are beneficial for people at all life stages. Let’s consider the health benefits of a watermelon from the point of view of your body:
Watermelon may be extremely helpful when it comes to lowering blood pressure levels. Watermelon is a good source of potassium, a well-known electrolyte to help lower blood pressure. Additionally, arginine, an amino acid converted from L-citrulline, may have a direct correlation with blood pressure reduction according to the health information in a FSU publication.
Lycopene has been found to be effective against macular degenerative disease where vision gradually disappears. One study on macular degeneration found participants with low lycopene levels were at a higher risk for developing eye disorders.
Now you have an alternative to eating all those beta-carotene caring carrots; Watermelon’s lycopene is another tool people can use in their arsenal against eye disease.
Your immune system loves all the great vitamins found in watermelon. Bring on that powerful Vitamin C for boosting your immune health by fighting against infections and the harmful effects of free radicals. In the case of watermelon, Vitamin B 6 also joins the team to help your immune system produce antibodies and form red blood cells.
Lastly, the Vitamin A found in watermelon helps regulate your immune system and protects you from infection, too.
Vitamins A and C, along with lycopene, all found in watermelon, are key players in the skin health realm. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production which keeps your skin soft and supple. Vitamin A works to repair cell damage and create new skin cells. Lycopene may help protect your skin from sunburn—but don’t ditch the sunscreen just yet, studies are still underway.
Citrulline has been found effective in reducing sore muscles after a hard workout. The electrolytes and amino acids like L-citrulline found in watermelon juice help reduce muscle fatigue, according to a study published by ACS. Bottom line, it appears you can exercise harder, eat a cup of watermelon, and reduce your post-workout soreness. That sounds like a big win for the weekend warrior and well-trained athlete.
Citrulline found in watermelon has been associated with a reduction in mild erectile dysfunction according to WebMD. However, the research evidence has not been corroborated, and it not conclusive at this time. But if eating a cup of watermelon may help the cause, it is certainly worth the effort of cutting up a slice or two.
How To Choose The Perfect Watermelon
As soon as summer barbeque season is upon us, it seems like the huge bins of watermelon miraculously appear in the local grocery store.
Though bending and lifting one of these hefty, water-filled beauties can be tough on your back (remember to bend your knees!), it is well worth the effort. Just remembering all the health benefits that one cup of watermelon provides should help you push through!
While you are peering into the watermelon bin, look for one that is firm, symmetrical, free from scratches or dents, and that feels heavy for its size. There will be a soft yellow spot on one side of the melon where it was in contact with the ground while the fruit ripened on the vine.
If the melon presents with a very light yellow or white spot, it may have been picked and shipped before it was completely ripe—it will not be as sweet and juicy as a vine-ripened fruit.
Simple preparations work best for watermelon. Slice it into a big, mouth watering, face covering, half moon servings for the traditional poolside snack. Quarter the slices for a more side friendly addition to your cookout fare and picnics.
If you want to get adventurous, grill the watermelon slices for 2-3 minutes on each side to caramelize some of the sugars for a sweet treat. Delicious on its own or served with vanilla ice cream.
Fruit salads are the classic, go-to watermelon preparation. Everyone loves a big serving of fresh fruit on a hot day. Keep it chilled by placing a bowl lined with ice under your salad bowl and the salad will stay cool and fresh for several hours.
For a twist on the traditional salad try cubed watermelon paired with chunks of feta cheese. Mix up a dressing with the juice from a fresh line, some extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper for a refreshing side salad or an afternoon snack. If you like a little herbaceous zing, add fresh basil or mint.
Decorative Watermelon Carving
More than just a serving bowl, carving watermelons as cute or elaborate centerpieces takes fruit creativity to the next level. Here is your chance opportunity bring a sense of whimsy or sophistication to your next garden party or barbeque.
Let’s start with a simple fruit basket: cut jagged edged teeth through the top third of the watermelon, then scoop out the watermelon flesh. This produces a unique watermelon bowl to serve your fruit salad! Just remember to cut a flat spot on the bottom, so your bowl doesn’t roll away.
A whimsical frog will also send the young and young at heart diving in for a bowl-full of fresh fruit salad. Forget the cookies, this watermelon frog carving tutorial will have you hopping to the store for more watermelon.
To really showcase your carving skills, try your hand at carving watermelon roses. You may go through a few melons to get the technique spot-on, but the final results will be a show stopping centerpiece that will impress your friends and family. This step-by-step rose carving instruction post only requires a watermelon, a sharp paring knife, and a round cookie cutter.
Now, all this carving may not add to the nutritional benefits of watermelon, but engaging in creative activities is great for your mental health!
How To Freeze Watermelon
The high water content in watermelon makes it easy to freeze. Frozen watermelon is a tasty addition to smoothies or as fruit cubes added to water, lemonade, ice tea.
Cut the watermelon into chunks and freeze on a wax paper lined baking tray. Once frozen, store in freezer bags or containers. The watermelon can lose some of its taste and texture when defrosted, but it maintains its healthy nutrients!
The health benefits of watermelon juice, including reducing muscle soreness for high-energy workouts were published by NCBI. They concluded that “A single fashion watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline dose diminished muscle soreness perception from 24 to 72 hours after the race (a half marathon) and maintained lower concentrations of plasma lactate after an exhausting exercise.” If it can help marathon runners, think what it will do for the average workout.
The best tasting and healthiest juice is the one that is the freshest squeezed. When juicing your watermelon you increase your lycopene intake, add antioxidants to your diet, increase your b vitamins, consume the amino acid citrulline, and up your water consumption, among other great things.
Grow Your Own Watermelons
There are more than 300 varieties of watermelon grown in North and South America! Watermelons are easy to grow and can be grown as far north as zone 3.
Watermelons require a long growing season and plenty of room to grow. When you grow your own, you can experiment with non-commercial and heirloom varieties that will take your watermelon enjoyment up a notch or two. If you live in a region that has a short growing season, start your watermelon plants indoors and then plant them in the sunniest location in your yard. You will love watching these beauties grow.
Have you ever tasted an Orange Tendersweet Watermelon? This heirloom variety is easy to grow, loves hot, hot weather, and clocks in at a whopping 35 pounds of sweet orange flesh.
Another unique heirloom watermelon is the Crimson Sweet Watermelon. When you cut into this fruit, you will be amazed at the bright yellow flesh that is sweet as honey.
The most popular heirloom watermelon variety is the Sugar Baby Watermelon. Super sweet, these round smallish melons are the perfect snack size.
The health benefits of watermelon are sure to make you want to grow your own watermelons—choose time-tested, heirloom varieties that offer a nutritional bang and a flavor punch. You can grow several varieties in the same garden patch to save precious square footage.
Now You Know All About the Great Health Benefits of Watermelons!
Watermelon isn’t just a popular go-to summer picnic snack—it has amazing health benefits that make it taste that much sweeter! Watermelon ups your antioxidant intake, improve your heart health, and provide vitamins and minerals needed to keep your immune system strong. I hope this post has inspired you to eat even more watermelon than before!
Want to learn more about this iconic summer fruit? Then visit our watermelon plants page to learn more about watermelon planting, growing, cooking, and more!