What happen when you eat watermelon
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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Watermelon Everyday

Backyard pool parties, summer cookouts, and cold watermelon.

Watermelon is without a doubt a classic summer fruit.

It is a perfect addition to parties and can be served as a single slice or made into smoothies and combined with cucumber and mint in a blender.

It is also known as Citrullus lanatus, and is closely related to foods like pumpkins and cucumbers.

Unlike other fruits such as cucumber, the rind as well as watermelon seeds are safe, edible, and packed with nutrients.

You might find yourself consuming watermelon frequently and ask yourself, “Is watermelon healthy?” — the answer is “yes.”

Watermelon is often avoided by those unfamiliar with its nutrient composition due to its sweet taste.

Watermelon can fit into just about any diet—yes, even Keto!

It is low in calories, carbohydrates, and unlikely to cause allergic reactions.

Though this red-fleshed fruit is low in calories, it does not mean it is skimping in nutrition.

Watermelon is packed with nutrients that provide a large variety of health benefits from regulating blood pressure to fighting off cancer and promoting hydration.

So, the next time you find yourself in a discussion and the question, “Is watermelon good for you?” arises, rest assured you can say yes— and you will now have science-based facts and evidence to go off.

As with everything, there are potential adverse effects and drawbacks to watermelon consumption which will be discussed later in the article, but for now, let’s focus on the most important health benefits.

Here are nine ways that watermelon benefits your body.

9 Positive Effects of Eating Watermelon

1. Nutrient Composition 

Though watermelon is primarily made up of water and carbs, it is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Many people tend to shy away from watermelon due to the carbohydrates being primarily made up of simple sugars which cause it to have a higher glycemic index.

But when looking at the glycemic load, which is based on portion sizes, it ranks fairly low.

A glycemic load less than 10 is considered low and a half cup of watermelon is just a 4.

It is fat-free, low sodium, and low calorie.

It is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, and the electrolytes magnesium and potassium.

Just one cup of watermelon contains around 46 calories and around 20% DV of vitamin C.

It is also high in the phytonutrient lycopene and other antioxidants that fight free radicals and protect against cell damage like carotenoids and cucurbitacin E.

With similar composition and less acid than a tomato, it makes a great choice for those with acid reflux.

2. Improved Hydration

We all know that consuming water is one of the best ways to stay hydrated. 

But did you know that some foods have a high water content?

Watermelon is 92% water, which makes for a great hydrating snack.

This is especially true in those that lose a lot of water throughout the day from sweat or exercise.

You do not have to get all of your fluid intake from liquids.

Certain foods with a high water content of over 90% such as watermelon are great ways to hydrate.

A one-cup serving contains over half of a cup of water.

Watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods you can consume.

Not only does it help with hydration, but it also helps you feel full and can lead to overall less snacking throughout the day which can lead to weight loss.

3. Lower Risk of Cancer

Watermelon contains lycopene which is a type of plant compound that has been studied for its anti-cancer effects.

Lycopene is an antioxidant and protects against damage from free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress.

It is a reddish pigment that is found in fruits and vegetables.

Though there are mixed results, some studies have shown links between lycopene intake and reduced risk of cancers of the digestive system (1).

Though more research should be completed, lycopene has also been recently studied to help treat HPV or the human papillomavirus which can lead to a decreased risk of cervical cancer (2).

Seedless watermelon has been found to contain more lycopene versus those with watermelon seeds.

It also contains cucurbitacin E which has been a topic of study and has been shown to reduce tumor growth (3).

4. Better Heart Health

Watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline.

Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid and found in the white part of the rind.

In the body, it is transferred into the essential amino acid called arginine.

Arginine helps blood flow and can increase overall blood circulation.

It has been studied to be of benefit to those with high blood pressure.

One study showed that citrulline consumption can lead to improved vascular function and relaxation of blood vessels which leads to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and prehypertension (4).

It also contains lycopene which has been studied to reduce cholesterol levels in those with high cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure (1).

One study conducted in 2012 suggested that watermelon extract intake was associated with improved arterial function and was associated with decreased blood pressure(5).

Watermelon is also beneficial for older women.

One study conducted on postmenopausal women showed that intake of watermelon extract consisting of citrulline and arginine resulted in reduced aortic stiffness and decreased blood pressure (6).

Lastly, watermelon contains potassium which relaxes your blood vessels resulting in reduced blood pressure.

5. Better Exercise Performance

If you consume watermelon or watermelon juice before or after a workout, it may improve exercise performance.

Its high water content will hydrate you and give an extra boost of energy to power through a workout.

It can also promote recovery after exercise by leading to less muscle soreness due to l-citrulline content.

In one study, athletes that drank watermelon juice with citrulline two hours before a race reported less muscle soreness 24-72 hours after compared with the placebo group (7).

In another study, seven athletes were given 500mL watermelon juice. All were found to have reduced recovery heart rate and decreased muscle soreness after 24 hours (8).

In addition, it is a good source of electrolyte potassium which promotes muscle function and reduces muscle soreness during exercise.

When consumed after exercise, watermelon not only contains water for rehydration but can replace the potassium that is typically lost via sweat during exercise.

6. Inflammation

Inflammation plays a big role in many chronic diseases.

Watermelon contains lycopene, a type of carotenoid, and Vitamin C, which are two powerful antioxidants studied to reduce inflammation (2).

In one study, intake of tomato juice fortified with Vitamin C was associated with lower markers of inflammation (9).

In another study done on rats, C-reactive protein which is a marker of inflammation was significantly reduced in those that were fed watermelon versus those in the control group (10).

7. Supports Healthy Immune System

If you are looking for food to promote a healthy immune system, watermelon is one of the best fruits to eat.

Along with many other positive benefits mentioned, the lycopene content in watermelon supports a healthy immune system.

Lycopene may help prevent sickness and fight inflammation in the lungs that often occur with the common cold.

It contains B6, which is responsible for the production of red blood cells and regulating immune function in the body.

It also contains Vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system by helping with the production of white blood cells which protect the body against infections and can even shorten the length of illness.

8. Healthy Skin and Hair

The high water content of watermelon is a great way to promote overall hydration and can lead to your skin appearing refreshed and hydrated.

It also contains many vitamins and minerals that have been associated with healthy skin and hair.

Vitamin C and Vitamin A are both important for healthy skin.

Watermelon is rich in beta-carotene which your body converts to vitamin A.

Vitamin A also plays a key role in eye health.

Your body needs Vitamin C to make sure your blood cells have enough iron and assist in carrying oxygen to hair follicles.

It also is needed to make collagen, a type of protein that promotes youthful skin and hair.

Due to the high antioxidant content lycopene in watermelon may also protect the skin from sun damage and sunburn.

Lastly, it contains arginine which is essential to blood circulation which can improve circulation to the scalp resulting in faster hair growth.

9. Reduces Insulin Resistance

Insulin is an important hormone in the body that is made in the pancreas.

It regulates blood sugar levels by helping the body convert blood sugar into energy.

Insulin also helps remove excess glucose from the blood and stores excess within the cells of your body for later use.

Insulin resistance is when your cells are unable to use insulin properly.

This can lead to elevated blood glucose levels.

In some studies, watermelon juice and arginine intake have been associated with decreased occurrence of insulin resistance which can also lead to decreased risk of metabolic syndrome (11).

3 Drawbacks of Eating Watermelon

Unfortunately, with most foods, in addition to the benefits of watermelon consumption, there are some drawbacks if you consume too much.

Here are three drawbacks of Eating too much watermelon.

Diarrhea

As with any other raw fruit, there is a risk for Salmonella which causes diarrhea if unsafe food handling is used.

It can also be caused by excess lycopene intake.

According to the American Cancer Society, daily lycopene intake of over 30 milligrams may be associated with loose bowels and other digestive issues (12).

Per the USDA, each 2 cup serving of watermelon contains almost 13 milligrams (13).

Fortunately, most people do not over-consume lycopene and do not ever experience diarrhea as a result of watermelon consumption.

Poor Digestion

Some people have also reported digestion issues with watermelon consumption.

It contains a high amount of fructose which some of our bodies may have trouble absorbing.

If you are sensitive to fructose or have IBS, you may want to limit or remove watermelon from your diet to avoid unpleasant side effects such as gas and bloating.

Irregular Heartbeat

Due to the high potassium content, if you have kidney issues or a history of hyperkalemia you may want to avoid or limit watermelon consumption.

When the body cannot properly excrete potassium it causes elevated blood potassium levels which can lead to an irregular heartbeat.

Final Take

In conclusion, watermelon contains an array of vitamins and minerals that, when consumed, can quickly fuel your body and provide it with the proper nutrition you need to perform at your best and reap benefits.

You may be tempted to pass on this sweet snack due to the satisfying, refreshing taste that seems too good to be true—but it is a great low-calorie summer snack that can fit in your diet regardless of fitness goals.

It can also improve hydration along with many other health benefits as mentioned above.

As with every diet, it should be combined with other veggies and fruits such as melon, berries, red grapefruit, cantaloupe, or tomato to provide an overall balanced nutrient intake.

References

  1. Naz, Ambreen et al. “Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims.” EXCLI journal vol. 13 650-60. 3 Jun. 2014
  2. “Lycopene: MedlinePlus Supplements.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/554.html.
  3. Attard, Everaldo, and Maria-Grazia Martinoli. “Cucurbitacin E, An Experimental Lead Triterpenoid with Anticancer, Immunomodulatory and Novel Effects Against Degenerative Diseases. A Mini-Review.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry vol. 15,17 (2015): 1708-13. doi:10.2174/1568026615666150427121331
  4. Figueroa, Arturo et al. “Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care vol. 20,1 (2017): 92-98. doi:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000340
  5. Arturo Figueroa, Marcos A. Sanchez-Gonzalez, Alexei Wong, Bahram H. Arjmandi, Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension, American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 25, Issue 6, June 2012, Pages 640–643, https://doi.org/10.1038/ajh.2012.20
  6. Figueroa, Arturo et al. “Effects of watermelon supplementation on arterial stiffness and wave reflection amplitude in postmenopausal women.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) vol. 20,5 (2013): 573-7. doi:10.1097/GME.0b013e3182733794
  7. Martínez-Sánchez, Ascensión et al. “Biochemical, physiological, and performance response of a functional watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline during a half-marathon race.” Food & nutrition research vol. 61,1 1330098. 13 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1330098
  8. Tarazona-Díaz, Martha P et al. “Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry vol. 61,31 (2013): 7522-8. doi:10.1021/jf400964r
  9. Jacob, Karin et al. “Influence of lycopene and vitamin C from tomato juice on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 99,1 (2008): 137-46. doi:10.1017/S0007114507791894
  10. Hong, Mee & Hartig, Nicole & Kaufman, Katy & Hooshmand, Shirin & Figueroa, Arturo & Kern, Mark. (2015). Watermelon consumption improves inflammation and antioxidant capacity in rats fed an atherogenic diet. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.). 35. 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.12.005.
  11. Arturo Figueroa, Marcos A. Sanchez-Gonzalez, Alexei Wong, Bahram H. Arjmandi, Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension, American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 25, Issue 6, June 2012, Pages 640–643, https://doi.org/10.1038/ajh.2012.20
  12. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/lycopene.
  13. “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167765/nutrients.

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