If there was ever a fruit that seemed to represent a particular season, then chances are it would be watermelons. Watermelons say summer like pretty much no other fruit. The two always seem to go hand in hand. This is especially true in colder climates. When the cold weather is gone, and the watermelons start showing up, it is clear that the summertime BBQ season has arrived!
Watermelons are not typically purchased in great abundance during the winter months but come summertime, those huge, watery, delicious fruits are all over the place. They are sweet, versatile and can be used in many ways. And to add to all this, they are also very healthy! Keep reading to learn more about watermelons and their incredible health benefits.
Where Do Watermelons Come From?
Watermelons come from a plant species called Citrullus Lanatus. Although it has a long name, it is just a simple vine type flowering plant that originated in West Africa. Despite its origins in West Africa, watermelon seeds have been found the tombs of the ancient Egyptians.
This signifies that despite common beliefs, there is a strong possibility that watermelons originated in Ancient Egypt. Currently, watermelons are grown in tropical or subtropical areas. Often in countries such as the USA and Mexico. However, there is a bulk of the watermelon industry that is produced in China.
Why Are Watermelons Good for Us?
You may think there’s nothing but water in watermelon, but there’s quite a bit more! Although watermelons are mostly water, at 92% water, this is a fruit that is also chock full of nutrients — everything from Vitamins A, B6, and C to things like lycopene, antioxidants, and amino acids. With low sodium, a bit of potassium, and only forty calories per cup, watermelon is a tasty, refreshing, and healthy treat.
There are three things that watermelons give us in terms of the nutrients that our bodies need: Antioxidants and Amino Acids, Lycopene and Beta-Carotene.
Antioxidants and Amino Acids
The antioxidants and amino acids are essential. These nutrients allow the body to function at its most optimal level. They help to prevent oxidative stress and cancer. Without amino acids, protein would be unable to exist, and the body would be unable to function normally. This would create a host of problems because protein is used for every single function that the human body does. All this packed in a sweet watermelon package!
Then there’s the lycopene. Lycopene is found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, but a significant amount is found in watermelons. Almost 15-20 mg for every two cups of watermelon! Lycopene is how the red pigment is present in the watermelon. This holds true for other produce as well, such as tomatoes, guavas, and red grapefruits. In addition, it is a naturally occurring phytonutrient. Phytonutrients react within our bodies to help us stay healthy. Lycopene is known for aiding with heart health, bone health, and even the prevention of certain cancers such as prostate cancer.
In order to have the maximum amount of lycopene in your watermelon, you’ll want to wait until it has fully ripened. That means it is very, very red! The richer the color, the higher the amount of lycopene in it.
Another fabulous benefit is the added amount of beta-carotene. This is also related to color. Beta-carotene is found in fruits and veggies that are red and orange. Carrots often tend to be the most well-known of this category, but they are not the only ones. Watermelons are right up there with them, and they help boost immunity, help with skin and eye health, and are even some of the primary nutrients that can help in the prevention of cancer.
However, it’s not just the inside red flesh of the watermelon that has nutritional benefits. The entire fruit does. Yes, even the white part that between the red and the rind is healthy for you. This white area contains the amino acid- citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid that is great for blood flow and cardiovascular health and by default, helps to improve circulation all over the body. So next time you’re eating watermelon, don’t throw away that white area!
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 cups diced (10 oz / 280 g)
Calories: 80 (Calories from Fat 0)
Amount per serving (and %DV*)
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Total Fat: 0g (0%)
Total Carbohydrate: 21g (7%) Dietary Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugars: 20g
Cholesterol: 0mg (0%)
Sodium: 0mg (0%)
Potassium: 270mg (8%)
Vitamin A: (30%)
Vitamin C: (25%)
The Incredible Health Benefits of Eating Watermelons
- Heart health -Watermelons are great for the cardio-vascular system
- Anti-inflammatory properties -Watermelons work their magic here too!
- Dehydration can be very dangerous but eating watermelons can help because they are 92% water
- Digestive issues are common, but watermelon can help your system be regular
- Watermelons have many healthy skin and hair benefits due to their antioxidants
- Recover faster and push harder in your workouts with the nutrients and electrolytes that watermelons provide
- Watermelons can prevent the growth of cancer-causing cells
Heart health - Watermelons are great for the heart
The high levels of lycopene in watermelons are exceptionally good at protecting cell damage. This reduces hypertension and lowers blood pressure while also lowering the risks associated with heart disease. As well, their high levels of citrulline and arginine help to improve blood flow and aid in decreasing excess fat in the body.
Anti-inflammatory properties - Watermelons work their magic here too!
Once again, it’s the lycopene in watermelons that is good for you — the lycopene aids to reduce inflammation in the body and works as an antioxidant to disable free radicals. Watermelons also contain choline, which is known to work well with chronic inflammation. This helps people with arthritis as well as inflammation that is caused by a poor diet, smoking, pollution, and other diseases. Any cellular damage can be helped with an anti-inflammatory such as lycopene.
Dehydration can be very dangerous, but watermelons can help
Water is essential to our health and, ultimately, our survival. Every year, people die of dehydration. At 92% water, watermelons are a great way to ensure that you are well hydrated. Humans get about twenty to thirty percent of all our fluids from our food. Foods like watermelon can help us to hit these targets easily. Watermelons are also filled with electrolytes, which can help to prevent heatstroke in extreme conditions.
Digestive issues are common, but watermelon can help your system
Watermelons contain high amounts of fiber. Fiber is what our digestive system needs to work smoothly and cleanse itself regularly. Consuming watermelon will help encourage a healthy digestive tract and avoid issues such as constipation.
Watermelons have many healthy skin and hair benefits
In just one cup of watermelon juice, there is a quarter of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin A. This is fantastic and yields excellent results for your skin and hair. Vitamin A also encourages the growth of collagen and elastin cells, which help to your skin to appear ageless.
Recover faster and push harder with watermelons
Watermelons have been shown to be helpful for muscle soreness and overall athletic performance. Drink the juice before your workout and feel the difference both during and after you work out. This is due to the citrulline in the watermelon. It enables a higher level of power in your athletic performance abilities. The electrolytes also help to keep you working at your highest level and recover faster when you are done.
Watermelons can prevent the growth of cancer-causing cells
Many fruits and vegetables have antioxidants, and antioxidants are have been linked to diminishing cancer-causing cells. Watermelons, in particular, are helpful in reducing the growth of prostate cancer cells.
However, it’s not all good news when it comes to watermelons. No matter how wonderful and healthy they are, often, too much of a good thing can become a problem. Small, temporary issues for the most part, but still things that are worth being aware, of.
The Possible Health Risks of Overeating Watermelon
In general, if you don’t go overboard on the watermelon consumption, then everything should be fine. However, if it’s just so good that you can’t help yourself from eating the whole thing, well…you may run into some issues. Watermelons are sweet, delicious, refreshing, and because of that, you may lose count of how many pieces you’ve had.
Unfortunately, that’s where you will run into problems. The side effects happen for a particular reason. When you overeat watermelon, the body ends up with an overabundance of lycopene and potassium.
And if you end up consuming more than 30mg of lycopene then you could find yourself dealing with nausea, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating. As well, too much potassium could lead long term to cardiovascular issues such as an irregular heartbeat and even reduced or limited muscle control. So, enjoy your watermelon just don’t eat the whole thing!
Fun Facts About Everyone’s Favorite Summer Fruit
- Watermelons are related to cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash. They are all part of the citrullus lanatuse family of plants.
- The first evidence we have of harvesting watermelons is written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics inside a tomb that was built about 5,000 years ago.
- China is now the world’s top producer of watermelons, but it was merchants that spread them along the Mediterranean Sea and eventually all the way to China.
- It wasn’t until the 13th century that watermelons made their way to Europe.
- Early explorers didn’t have canteens to hold their water, but carved out watermelons made good substitutes.
- Watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the United States. Second, in line is the cantaloupe followed by honeydew melon.
- Contrary to belief, even the rind of a watermelon can be eaten.
- Watermelons most likely found their way to North America via African slaves.
- Watermelons are both a fruit -as everyone automatically assumes and a vegetable! This is because they are the product of a seed-producing plant, and they are grown using vegetable crop production systems. Their family tree can also be traced back to cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.
Different Ways to Use Watermelons
Watermelons are versatile fruits and can be used in many ways. When fresh, they can be cubed, balled, cut, and sliced. It can be as simple as serving it on a plate and eating them raw. If you prefer a more creative touch, check out the following ideas.
- Cubed and served in a salad with grilled halloumi cheese and warm basilic dressing
- Grilled or barbequed on a kebob
- Watermelon and feta on pizza
- Watermelon popsicles
- Sliced and used as the pizza dough for a fruit dessert pizza
- Watermelon ice -great to infuse your water with!
- Grilled chicken and watermelon tacos
So, enjoy those summer watermelons as much as you can but without overdoing it! Know that you are providing your body with lots of healthy nutrients and vitamins. Whether you are grilling your watermelon and pairing it with savory foods, or simply eating it sliced as a snack, watermelon is a fantastic fruit that holds many nutritional benefits.