Watermelon – The World’s Healthiest Foods
Best Benefits & Uses Of Watermelon
The watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa,
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and is related to plants like cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin that grow as vines. It is a very large, smooth and oval to round-shaped fruit. The outer body of the fruit has solid green or green skin with yellow stripes. The edible skin is pink to red in colour with lots of flat, oval black seeds. Seedless varieties of the fruit are also available. Though the red flesh is the most common one, there are other varieties that have orange, yellow or white flesh. Watermelons are available all over the world throughout the year. But they are at their sweetest best in summers. This is the season to enjoy this fruit.
Besides being extremely delicious, the fruit quenches our thirst as well as re-boosts body with antioxidant lycopene and vitamin A. They have a neutral flavour, tasting somewhat like light sugar syrup. This is because they contain 6% sugar and 92% water. Due to their high water content, they are great for preventing dehydration during summers. The entire fruit comprising the inner rind which is light green or white in colour is highly nutritious. The inner rind is often used as vegetable and to prepare stews, fries and pickles.
The watermelon fruit is also used in lipsticks, lip glosses, essences, shower gels and body fragrances due to its refreshing nature.
Skin Benefits Of Watermelon:
Watermelon is more than just a refreshing fruit to quench your thirst. It is rich in vitamin A, C and antioxidants, vital for skin health. Its high water content hydrates your body, resulting in radiant skin. The various watermelon benefits for skin are given below.
Free radicals in the body are responsible for causing signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Watermelon is a rich source of antioxidants like lycopene, Vitamin A and C. These help reduce free radicals in the body, thus preventing signs of ageing. Watermelon can be applied on the skin topically and consumed too for getting the best results.
- Natural toner:
This juicy red fruit is a natural astringent that enhances the appearance of our skin by acting as a natural toner. For the best results, massage your skin with a fresh watermelon slice or blend it with honey. If you have oily skin, you can add hazelnut powder to watermelon juice extract and apply it on your face and neck to keep it well-hydrated.
- Moisturizes and hydrates skin:
Dehydration can make our skin appear dry and dull. If you have dry skin, you can apply watermelon with honey to keep it properly moisturized and hydrated. This fruit must also be included in your diet for a supple skin.
- Cures acne:
Watermelon is one of the best natural remedies for acne. If your skin is prone to acne or pimples, simply massage your skin with watermelon juice every day. To use:
Cleanse your face thoroughly
Dab a cotton ball in watermelon juice
Apply it to your face.
Leave for 15 minutes
Rinse off with cold water
- Removes excess oil from the skin:
Watermelon is a rich source of vitamin A which is vital to the health and vitality of our skin. It reduces the size of the skin pores and minimizes the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands.
- Treatment of sunburns:
Watermelon can be also used to treat sunburns. To use:
Prepare a face pack by mixing equal proportions of watermelon and cucumber pulp
Apply the pack to your face evenly
Leave it on for 20 minutes.
This will not only help heal the sunburns but also lighten your complexion.
Hair Benefits Of Watermelon:
Healthy hair depends on a healthy body and system to a great extent. If your body lacks certain vital nutrients and minerals, it adversely affects your hair and scalp, causing several hair problems like hair loss, thinning, dandruff, split ends and the like. As far as watermelon is concerned, its nutritional value can be beneficial for your hair. Here’s how:
- Promotes hair growth:
Watermelon contains abundant amount of a phytonutrients called citrulline. These help increase the level of arginine in the body. Arginine is an amino acid that improves blood circulation in the scalp, thus promoting hair growth. Moreover, the Viagra effect of watermelons keeps the blood pumping to your scalp. This helps provide with the proteins and minerals that encourage hair growth.
Health Benefits Of Watermelon:
As a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, magnesium and potassium and low in calories, the benefits of watermelon for health are as follows.
- Cardiovascular health:
A diet low in fat and cholesterol and rich in antioxidants is conducive to a healthy heart. Watermelon is rich in an antioxidant called citrulline compound. This helps in maintaining good levels of histidine-arginine. This is essential for the production of nitric acid which helps in maintaining the elasticity of the arteries and blood vessels by curbing the interactions of oxidative stress. Red watermelon is a rich source of antioxidants called lycopene which spreads throughout the body, thus neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are harmful as they oxidize cholesterol, enabling it to stick to blood vessel walls and thicken them, thus leading to heart attack and stroke. Lycopene also helps in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
- Stronger bones:
Lycopene also plays an important role in promoting bone health. Dietary lycopene reduces oxidative stress, thus reducing the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, two bone cells that are involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. So consuming lycopene-rich foods (like watermelon) can make your bones stronger. Besides, watermelon is also rich in potassium which helps in retaining calcium in your body, leading to stronger bones and joints.
- Prevents dehydration:
Watermelon is rich in electrolytes sodium and potassium which we lose through perspiration. It reduces the risk of dehydration by replacing the body fluids with these electrolytes.
- Anti-cancer properties:
Despite being a fruit, watermelon contains twice the amount of lycopene found in vegetables like tomatoes. These compounds play an important role in protecting the cells from free radical damage, thus preventing breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, lung cancer and colourectal cancer. As per research, the compounds in watermelon have been found to be effective in causing the programmed death in breast cancer cells.
- Supports kidneys:
Being a natural diuretic, watermelon helps to increase the flow of urine without straining the kidneys. It contains potassium which helps in clearing the accumulated salt deposits of limestone from the kidneys and also works to reduce the concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of forming kidney stones. Watermelon also enables the liver to process ammonia (waste from protein digestion), thus easing the strain on kidneys while getting rid of excess fluids.
- Natural Viagra:
Watermelon is often referred to as the natural Viagra as it contains arginine. Arginine boosts nitric acid. This acid relaxes the blood vessels, thus treating and preventing erectile dysfunctions. Watermelon is also a rich source of amino acid – citrulline – which works in further expanding the blood vessels.
- Controls blood pressure:
Potassium and manganese contained in watermelon work to regulate blood pressure while the antioxidants work to maintain the health of blood vessels to protect against sclerosis. This results in easing the movement of the passage of blood vessels, hence reducing high blood pressure.
- Anti-inflammatory properties:
This fruit is rich in phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, carotenoids and triterpenoids. The carotenoid lycopene is particularly effective in reducing inflammation. Watermelon also contains a tripterpenoid cucurbitacin E which provides anti-inflammatory support by blocking the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes that normally cause increased inflammation. Athletes are often recommended to drink watermelon juice before a hard workout as it reduces their heart rate and next-day muscle-soreness.
- Improves sleep:
Watermelon can improve sleep as it contains polysaccharide carbohydrates that can increase the body’s output of serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin at night make your brain less sensitive to disruptive stimuli such as noise during sleep. Consumption of few slices of this fruit before dinner can extend the stages of deep sleep by nearly 27%.
- Reduces fat:
The citrulline found in watermelon can reduce the accumulation of fat in the fat cells. This amino acid gets converted into arginine when absorbed by the body. On being consumed, citrulline can block the activity of tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP), thus causing less fat creation by the cells and preventing over-accumulation of body fat.
- Eye health:
Watermelon is a great source of beta-carotene which gets converted to vitamin A in the body. This helps in producing pigments in the retina of the eye, thus protecting against age-related macular degeneration as well as preventing night blindness. Vitamin A is also vital for maintenance of healthy skin, teeth, skeletal tissue and mucus membranes.
- Boosts energy:
Daily consumption of watermelon can boost energy by up to 23%. This is due to vitamin B6 which is used by the body to synthesize feel-good dopamine and magnesium which assist in the formation of adenosine triphosphate – a nucleotide that fuels cellular function for all-day energy.
- Supports muscles and nerves:
Being rich in potassium, watermelon is a great natural electrolyte and therefore, can regulate the action of nerves and muscles in the body. Potassium is a mineral that determines the degree of contraction of muscles and controls the excitation of nerves in the body.
- Supports immune system and heals wounds:
Watermelon has a high content of vitamin C which improves the immune system by maintaining the redox integrity of cells, thereby protecting them from the reactive oxygen radicals. Vitamin C also facilitates quick healing of wounds as it is vital to the formation of new connective tissue. This vitamin is required for the functioning of enzymes that are involved in the formation of collagen, the main component of wound healing. Arginine on the other hand speeds up the delivery of white blood cells to injury sites, thus accelerating the growth of new skin tissue.
- Alkaline affects:
Consumption of fully-ripe watermelons has an alkaline effect on your body. Alkaline forming foods like fresh fruits and vegetables greatly reduce the risk of developing disease and illness caused by high acid diet comprising of meat, eggs and dairy.
Side Effects and Precautions:
Allergies: Watermelon contains enzymes -malate dehydrogenase, and triose phosphate isomerase, and you may experience an allergy to watermelon if you have allergic sensitivities to latex, celery, cucumber or carrot, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including hives, facial swelling, diarrhea or anaphylaxis.
Toxins: Some studies predict residues of forchlorfenuron (a synthetic growth stimulator) in the range of 1-5 ppb in watermelons, so opt for organically certified melons to avoid the toxins.
Gastrointestinal: Consuming large amounts (>30 mg) of lycopene-rich foods, such as tomatoes and watermelon, may result in gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating.
Hyperkalemia: Consuming larger quantities of foods containing potassium, such as watermelon, may adversely affect people diagnosed with hyperkalemia (kidney disorder resulting in potassium excess in blood), resulting in dangerous cardiovascular effects such as irregular heartbeats, a weak or absent pulse and cardiac arrest as well as adversely affect nerve and muscle control.
Quick and Easy Recipes Using Watermelon:
- Watermelon juice:
This is one of the simplest, best and healthiest ways of adding watermelon in your diet. You may say this is watermelon in its raw form. To use:
Cut slices of watermelon.
Pass it through a juicer or blend it well.
Now strain it well. This step is completely optional as some people like their watermelon juice to be fleshy and thick like smoothies. While some like it liquid. So you may have it either ways.
Make sure you include the white rind while juicing. You may not eat it but while juicing you will be getting its benefits.
Add few mint leaves to make it more efreshing.
Take a tall glass, add crushed iced (optional).
Pour the juice in and enjoy relish every sip.
Here’s how you can include watermelon to your salads. To use:
Cut thin slices of watermelon and red onions
Mix the two together
Sprinkle some salt and black pepper
Enjoy your delicious salad
Now that you know the numerous benefits of watermelon and ways of including it in your diet, go ahead and give it a try.
Watermelon is a rich source of carotenoid, lycopene and phenolic antioxidants. It also contains triterpene – an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient, cucurbitacin E and amino acid citrulline. Besides, it is a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A (particularly beta-carotene). It is also a good source of potassium and magnesium.
Calories in Watermelon:
Watermelon is low in calories. A 100 gram serving of this fruit provides just 30 calories whereas a cup of diced watermelon provides 46 calories. This low calorie content can be attributed to the high water content which accounts for nearly 92% of watermelon flesh.
A 100 gram serving of watermelon provides approximately 7.5 grams of carbohydrates. This fruit derives majority of its calories from its sugar content. Fructose, a natural fruit sugar, occupies majority of sugar content thus imparting a sweet taste to this fruit. It also contains moderate amounts of dietary fiber with each 100 gram serving providing 0.4 grams of fiber.
Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C both of which are antioxidants. They play an important role in preventing cellular damage that can lead to cancer.
Watermelon is loaded with lycopene, responsible for imparting a pinkish red colour to watermelon flesh. Its juice also has high concentrations of lycopene so after eating watermelon from a bowl, drink the juice left behind.
This amino acid gets converted into arginine within the body which reverses the negative action of cells that is triggered by factors like obesity, smoking, obesity, ageing and high blood pressure.