Watermelons are one of the most-consumed melons in the US, followed by honeydew and cantaloupe. In fact, in the U.S, July is the National Watermelon Month, which tells a lot about its popularity among Americans.
These days, about 300 watermelon varieties are grown in the U.S and Mexico. While most people think of it as a tasty and refreshing fruit, it turns out that it has a lot to offer in terms of nutrition and health benefits.
6 Watermelon Facts That Might Surprise You
1. Watermelon Has More Lycopene Than Raw Tomatoes
Lycopene is a potent antioxidant which gives fruits and veggies a red or pink color. While this carotenoid is typically associated with tomatoes, watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes! Specifically, a cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene in a tomato.
2. Watermelon Juice May Relieve Muscle Soreness
Watermelon contains l-citrulline, an amino acid that prevents muscle pain. Hence, drinking a glass of watermelon juice before a workout is a good idea.
According to one study, men who consumed natural unpasteurized watermelon juice before working out had reduced muscle soreness compared to the subject who consumed a placebo.
However, you need to be careful with consuming watermelon juice as it is pretty much high in fructose.
3. Watermelon Is a Fruit and a Vegetable
Watermelon is related to squash, pumpkin, and cucumbers as it is part veggie and part fruit (due to its sweet taste). In other words, watermelon is both fruit and veggie!
4. You Can Eat Watermelon Rind and Seeds
Instead of disposing of the rind, put it in a blended with lime for a healthy, tasty, and refreshing treat. The rind contains plenty of blood-building chlorophyll as well as more citrulline than the flesh itself.
In the kidneys, citrulline is turned into arginine, a compound that is vital for the immune system and the heart health. In addition to this, it has been also shown to have potential therapeutic value in more than 100 health conditions.
The black watermelon seeds, which are also edible, are packed with nutrients like fiber, protein, zinc, and iron.
5. It’s Mostly Water
Being mostly water (91%), eating watermelon on a hot day is a delicious day to stay properly hydrated and prevent dehydration. However, note that eating a watermelon is not a substitute for drinking fresh water.
6. Some Watermelon Are Yellow
Crimson sweet is the most popular type, but the yellow crimson has a sweeter flavor. While most studies are focused on the first, the latter is likely to come with its own set of benefits.
Lycopene: Watermelon’s Nutritional Claim to Fame
Lycopene`s antioxidant activity has been shown to be more potent than that of beta-carotene and other carotenoids. In one particular study, after managing other stroke risk factors like diabetes and older age, it has been found that subjects with the highest lycopene levels were 55% less likely to have a stroke.
According to a 2014 meta-analysis, lycopene lowered stroke risk by over 19%. In addition to decreasing stroke risk, it has been also found to have anti-cancer activity, probably thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties.
A 2014 meta-analysis involving 10 studies has found that lycopene may lower the risk of ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women.
Watermelon Extract May Significantly Reduce Blood Pressure
According to one study,
“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 cardioprotection by attenuating cold-induced aortic hemodynamic responses.”
Watermelon for Inflammation, Sexual Health, and More
L-arginine has the ability to relax the blood vessels, which in turn helps with erectile dysfunction. This is why watermelon is often called the “Nature`s Viagra.” As a matter of fact, supplementing with citrulline has been shown to improve erection hardness in those with erectile dysfunction.
Watermelon also contains anti-inflammatory substances, such as cucurbitacin E, or tripterpenoid, which reduces the activity of cyclooxygenase, the pain and inflammation-causing enzyme. Despite its low calorie value, watermelon also contains nutrients in which many Americans are lacking, such as
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
Tricks for picking a ripe watermelon include:
- Should be heavy for its size
- The thump test ripe watermelon is said to have a hollow bass sound)
- Smooth rind with a dull top