Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are a member of gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), a plant family which also includes cucumber, squash, and pumpkin that grow on vines on the ground. The melons which are either classified as fruit or vegetable are believed to be originated in southern Africa and now are widely grown across many tropical regions.
There are over 500 varieties of watermelons throughout the world, ranging in weights (from one pound to more than two hundred pounds), shapes (from globular to oblong) and colors (red, yellow, orange, or white flesh).
The watermelon contains about ninety percent of water and the pulp is sweet, making it a favorite thirst-quenching fruit. Apart from that, watermelon is considered as one of the world’s healthiest foods because it has no fats and has fewer amounts of calories. One cup of watermelon has just 46 calories, so it’s also an excellent food for weight loss.
In addition, watermelons are rich in many essential nutrient like vitamin A, B1, B6 & C, pantothenic acid, biotin, potassium, and magnesium. In red watermelon also contains a powerful carotenoid antioxidant known as lycopene (plant pigment that responsible for the red color of watermelon, tomatoes, and pink guavas). These powerful antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals that can lead to inflammation, general sickness and chronic illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
Nutritional Value of Watermelon, Raw
Health Benefits of Watermelons
Here are some health benefits of watermelons:
- Fight Cancer
The lypocene in watermelon has been found to be effective in preventing cancers, particularly breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and endometrial cancer. A study conducted by Harvard University found that men who ate lycopene-rich diet had a lower risk of developing certain cancers, especially prostate cancer than those who did not.
- Relieve Kidney Disorders
Watermelon is a good source of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning off the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damages.
- Reduce High Blood Pressure
As watermelons are rich in potassium and magnesium, they help in controlling blood pressure and maintaining the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base balance.
- Improves Eye Health
Watermelons are an excellent source of vitamin A and beta carotene, which help improve overall eye health. Eating watermelon can also prevent age related macular degeneration (AMD), the major cause of vision loss in older people.
- Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Apart from protective cancers, lycopene in watermelon also provide cardiovascular benefits. Researchers found that women who consumed 7-10 servings of lycopene-rich diets every week had 29% lower risk of heart disease when compared with women who ate less than 1.5 servings of lycopene-rich diets each week. Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help promote arteries, blood flow, and overall heart health.
- Boosts the Immune System
Vitamin C in watermelon can help boost the immune system, which in turn help protect your body from various illness and infections.
- Treats Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
Arginine present in water melon is beneficial in treating erectile dysfunction. Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has. While watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra, it is a best way to relax blood vessels without the side effects of prescription drugs. A study of 50 men with impotence reported significant improved sexual function after they were given arginine supplementation.
- Aid in Energy Production
Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B1, which are necessary for energy production.
- Promote Weight Loss
Watermelon is low in calories and high in water content, hence it is a perfect snack for people looking to lose weight.
- Prevent Osteoporosis
Watermelon is rich in magnesium, a nutrient known to help strengthen the bone, thereby beneficial in preventing osteoporosis.
- Reduce Blood Sugar
Minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus reducing the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in water melons also has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Keep Body Hydrated
Since watermelon contains high water content – 92 percent water, it can help to replenish body fluids. Also, watermelons help in providing a cooling effect in your body. So it’s the best refreshing snack option during the hot summer season. By having watermelons, you can keep your body hydrated and healthy.
When choosing a watermelon, look out for the red watermelon because lycopene is found only in this varieties. The redder the watermelon, the more lycopene it contains.