watermelon

Watermelon and it’s tasty benefits

I know each of your reading this article must’ve tried watermelon at least once in your life, can such a tasty summer fruit also be rich in benefits? Keep reading to find out! 

What is watermelon and where does it come from? 

Let’s firstly discuss what Watermelon is and where it came from. Watermelon is a juicy summer fruit growing on a vine on the ground in hot countries like South Africa, Southern Europe, South America, and the Far East. When you purchase a watermelon from your local store or a supermarket, you should try choosing one that’s ripe. The way to know if it is ripe is if it has a yellow patch on part of its hard skin or simply knock the thick skin and listen for a hollow sound (Hills, 2019).  

Benefits of the delicious watermelon 

Weight loss support

Watermelon does not burn fat or help you to magically shed some body weight. However, in regards to its nutritional content it could help you lose weight in various ways.

Firstly, it is low in calories. 1 cup of watermelon accounts for approximately 80 calories and no fat. Therefore, this can help you maintain low calories through the day.

Another way, is that watermelon keeps you fuller for longer thanks to its fiber content. For example, 2 cups of watermelon provides approximately 1 gram of fiber (Boldt, 2019). This is great because an average person is recommended to consume 30g of fiber per day to support a healthy digestive tract. Fiber slows down digestion as it absorbs water and swells up while it it moves through the digestive tract. Then, as it moves through the tract it will pick up any food leftovers and toxins leaving you with a nice clean digestive tract.. This can help with weight management as you are less likely to be hungry and eat more calories than required.  

Hydrating

Watermelon is roughly 90% water, consuming 2 large wedges of watermelon could be equivalent to 500ml of water (Hills, 2019). Watermelon also contains electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals within our body that help to regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction (Healthessentials, 2019). The right amount of electrolytes is required for optimal health and physical performance, if your electrolytes levels are low you may experience dehydration, lousiness, muscle cramping and spasms. (healthyessentials, 2019). The electrolytes that the watermelon contains are: 

– Calcium- required for the formation and maintenance of strength and density of bones and teeth. 

– Potassium- important for the normal functioning of muscles, nerve cells and organs including heart, kidneys and adrenal glands. 

– Magnesium- plays a vital role in the formation and strengthening of bones and teeth and helps manage the levels of calcium in our blood 

– Phosphate- is an essential component of all cells and used and utilised in the energy pathways. To clarify, it is required for effective exercise and training regimes.  

Soothes aching muscles

If you are currently training, whether this is in a gym or for some sort of contest, you will be more than familiar with aching muscles. If you are a gym goer, are you ready for your leg day? I know I’m not! But with a little help of a watermelon I might be. It has been discovered that watermelon contains a compound called L-citrulline which, during digestion, gets converted into an amino acid called L-arginine. L-arginine is known for enhancing blood circulation and relaxing our blood vessels. So, this may speed up your recovery! (livestrong, 2018).

There was actually a journal published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry (2013) which discussed a study conducted to examine the effects of a watermelon on aching muscles.  The study reported that drinking 16 ounces of watermelon juice an hour before exercise helped the participants to keep their heart rate regulated and reduced muscle soreness the following day (livingstrong.com, 2018). 

Acts as an antioxidant

Additionally, watermelon is rich in a carotenoid called Lycopene which is the watermelon’s natural red pigment that acts as an antioxidant. Lycopene protects our body, organs and DNA from oxidative damage. By oxidative damage we are referring to the inhaling of toxins found within our air. You could say it controls poison that we inhale. Lycopene has proven to prevent heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), prostate cancer, breast, lung, and bladder, ovarian, and colon and pancreas cancer (Rxlist, 2019). 

Supports heart health

So as mentioned previously, watermelon contains Lycopene which prevents hardening of arteries and reduces arterial stiffness. This can occur if we have a build-up of plaque in the arteries which can later lead to a heart attack (Hills, 2019).  

Anti-cancer properties

Thanks to its Lycopene content, consumption of watermelon can reduce the risks of prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer and pancreas cancer. 

Prevents Erectile Dysfunction

Watermelon contains amino acid called L-citrulline. L-citruline mimics the effects of Viagra. As a result, it increases blood flow to the penis by opening the blood vessels wider, which in effect, improves erections (Villines, 2017). It is said that watermelon juice may be better for this as it is more concentrated. 

Considerations 

We wouldn’t recommend eating more than 2 cups of watermelon at any one time. The reason for this is because you may experience symptoms of an allergic reaction with symptoms including itchy lips and swelling. However, too much watermelon can also cause loose stools due to the amount of lycopene consumed. For instance, some studies have demonstrated that consuming any more than 30mg can cause diarrhoea whereas 2 cups of watermelon can contain roughly 18mg of lycopene (United States Department of Agriculture, 2002 & Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2013) 

In addition..

There was also a study conducted in 2018 which found that although watermelon is approximately 90% water, it acts as a diuretic. This doesn’t meant that it dehydrates you but it means that due to watermelon components and it’s water content, you may feel the urge to go to the ladies/ men’s room more often as your urine production will increase (Pharmacother, 2018). This may also be looked at in a positive way, the more water you consume the more toxins your body will have the chance to flush out of your system.  

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 Recommended article: Health benefits of pomegranate (evidence based)

References 

Agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov. (2019). Watermelon Packs a Powerful Lycopene Punch. [online] Available at: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2002/jun/lyco [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

Boldt, A. (2019). Is Watermelon Good for Losing Weight? | Livestrong.com. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/388322-is-watermelon-good-for-losing-weight/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not?. [online] Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/electrolyte-drinks-beneficial-or-not/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

Hills, J. (2019). Eat More Watermelon: It Fights Cancer and Diabetes, Helps Prevent Heart Attack, Boosts Eye Health and More. [online] Healthy and Natural World. Available at: https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/watermelon-benefits-and-nutrition-facts/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

Pharmacother, B. (2018). Evaluation of anti-urolithiatic and diuretic activities of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) using in vivo and in vitro experiments. [online] Available at: .https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29145146 [Accessed 4 Aug. 2019]. 

RxList (2019). Lycopene: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions. [online] RxList. Available at: https://www.rxlist.com/lycopene/supplements.htm [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

Villines, Z. (2017). Watermelon: A natural form of Viagra?. [online] Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320440.php [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. 

 

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