Watermelon, botanically known as Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, a vine-like flowering plant from West Africa which includes honeydew, cucumber, squash and cantaloupe.
Often oblong, light green in color with white bands running from one end to another, watermelons can weigh anywhere between 2 to 70 pounds. With 92 percent water content making it the most loved summer fruit, watermelons burst with the goodness of potassium, vitamins A, C and B 6 and lycopene, making it a low calorie, nutrient dense food. Interestingly, watermelon has the highest concentration of lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant
which protects against prostate, lung, colorectal, endometrial and breast cancer.
Along with its sweet and juicy pulp, watermelon seeds
pack a solid nutritional punch offering a bevy of nutrients like magnesium, protein, zinc, iron and omega-6 fatty acids
. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
content in watermelon seeds lower cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They bear a similar taste to sunflower seeds, but are less nutty.
Approximately, 200 varieties of watermelon are grown in the United States and Mexico. Health Benefits of Watermelon
Citrulline and lycopene contribute more to the health benefits of watermelon. Lowering blood pressure, improving skin texture, promoting heart health, reducing muscle soreness, and hydration are some of the benefits derived from eating watermelon. Being a low calorie, fat-free and high fiber fruit, watermelon is a must include for weight watchers.
Watermelon Recipe Learn How to Make Watermelon SalsaIngredients
- Good for Heart Health
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension concluded that watermelon extract lowers blood pressure in obese adults.
Citrulline is the key compound in watermelon’s hypotensive powers as it helps the body produce arginine. Arginine aids in synthesizing nitric oxide, which acts as a muscle relaxant assisting in maintaining healthy vascular tone and blood pressure.
Citrulline lowers LDL cholesterol levels and reduces deposition of arterial plaque.
Additionally, the low sodium, high potassium content in watermelon make it an ideal food for hypertensive people.
Lycopene and vitamin C prevent hardening of arteries, increase elasticity of blood vessels and decrease inflammation, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Helps in Pregnancy
With its high water content and natural sugars, watermelon eases heartburn, reduces swelling, alleviates morning sickness and prevents dehydration. In addition to that, the mineral content in watermelons like calcium and magnesium help prevent third-trimester muscle cramps. The fiber and water content in watermelon keep constipation, a common problem in pregnancy away. Watermelon is rich in nutrients like potassium, vitamin A, C and B 6 which are vital for the development of the baby's vision, brain and immune system.
A study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics discovered that lycopene reduces the incidence of preeclampsia by 50 percent.
- Lowers Body Fat Accumulation
A new research has discovered a link between watermelon and the deposition of body fat.
Watermelon contains citrulline which gets converted to arginine. Conversion of citrulline into arginine results in the formation of arginine-related molecules called polyarginine peptides, which block activity of an enzyme called tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP).
When TNAP activity is shut down, adipocytes create less fat (adipogenesis), thus lowering the accumulation of body fat.
- Benefits the Kidneys
Potassium content in watermelon lowers uric acid levels which may otherwise contribute to kidney damage. The high water content facilitates frequent urination which helps kidneys flush out toxins. The combination of magnesium and vitamin B 6 in watermelon reduce incidence of calcium oxalate stones.
- Good for Hydration
With 92 percent water content, watermelons are ideal thirst quenchers in sweltering summer heat which also prevents heat stroke by reducing the body temperature.
Rich in electrolytes and rehydration salts, watermelon nourishes the body by replacing electrolytes lost through sweat, hydrates cells and maintains cellular water balance.
A study at the University of Naples demonstrated that phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin in watermelon boost hydration levels even further.
- Reduces Muscle Soreness
Watermelon juice is on its way to becoming the athlete’s favorite pre-exercise drink.
According to a study published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the citrulline content in watermelon relieves post-exercise muscle soreness by lowering inflammation and reducing muscle damage.
- Promotes Healthy Skin
Being a rich source of powerful anti-oxidants - vitamin A, C and lycopene, watermelons safeguard against free radicals that are responsible for wrinkles, fine lines and skin blemishes.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for maintaining integrity of skin, reducing acne and moisturizing the skin. Vitamin C which aids in collagen production, is essential for maintaining elasticity of skin and improving skin texture.
- 3 cups finely diced watermelon
- 2 chopped jalapeno peppers
- 1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium bowl, combine watermelon, jalapenos, coriander leaves, lime juice and onion.
- Mix well. Sprinkle salt.
- Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Serve chilled.