Watermelon is a summer staple, gracing the table at picnics and barbecues. But this melon is good for much more than that. Along with their sweet and juicy flavor, watermelons are packed with nutrients with potential health benefits. So don’t wait until the summer to pick up this tasty snack. Incorporate it into your diet more often, depending on its availability in your area.
5 Health Benefits of Watermelon
Contains Various Nutrients
Watermelons are rich in many nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. Plus, they have numerous antioxidants like carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E that could combat buildups of free radicals in the body. “Amino acids are the basic building block for protein, and protein is used in virtually every vital function in the body,” said Angela Lemond, a Texas-based registered dietitian, nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 
Read: Did You Know You Could Cook A Whole Chicken In Watermelon And It Would Turn Out Tastefully Awesome?
Proper hydration is crucial for the body. It regulates temperature and organ function, delivers nutrients to cells, and helps the mind feel alert, among many more bodily processes. But many people find water boring and struggle to drink enough daily. Fortunately, foods with high water content — like cucumbers, soups, and smoothies — can contribute to daily hydration. Therefore, watermelon is a great addition to a diet since it is made of 92% water. It’s also low in calories because of its high water content.
“Watermelons help with overall hydration, and that is a great thing,” said Lemond. “They say we can get 20-30 percent of our fluid needs through our diet alone, and foods like these certainly help.” Hydration is also crucial for digestion. Water and fiber are key to move waste through the intestines. People who eat little fiber and drink too little liquid are more likely to struggle with constipation.
Hydration and fiber can also aid healthy weight loss because it helps people feel full and satisfied after a meal. “Eating more fruits and vegetables of any kind naturally helps decrease overall calories (energy) of the diet,” Lemond said. “We know that people that eat higher quantities of fruits and vegetables typically have healthier body weights. However, I do not recommend eating only watermelon… You will lose weight, but that weight will be mostly muscle.”
Reduces Muscle Soreness
Watermelons contain citrulline, an amino acid that can help exercise performance and reduce muscle soreness after a workout. The compound can expand blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood through the body during exercise. Citrulline is available as a supplement for this reason. But the research found that watermelon, not just citrulline, can benefit the body after a workout. More studies are needed to confirm this, but it’s always advisable to obtain nutrients through foods instead of supplements.
Read: How To Make Amazing Naturally Flavored Water
Protects Against Diseases
“The lycopene in watermelon makes it an anti-inflammatory fruit,” said Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at the University of Texas at Austin. Lycopene may provide benefits to eye health. Particularly, it may prevent or decrease the inflammation in age-related macular degeneration. Preliminary research indicates it may delay the progression of Alzheimer’s as well.
Lycopene and citrulline can also support heart health. Moreover, studies show that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Meanwhile, citrulline can lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide in the body, a compound that helps expand blood vessels, which can reduce blood pressure.
Additionally, vitamin C and other antioxidants in watermelons can also reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. They can also have anticancer effects since lycopene can lower levels of the growth hormone that causes cell division. (Cancer appears when the process of cell division goes out of control.) Plus, cucurbitacin E may inhibit tumor growth by promoting the bodily process that disposes of damaged cells. More research is needed to prove its efficiency but these compounds may help reduce inflammation in chronic disease. 
Watermelons contain vitamin C and A, two nutrients crucial for skin health. Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, a protein vital for strengthening hair and smoothing the skin. One review showed that a diet rich in vitamin C can lower the risk of dry skin and wrinkles. Meanwhile, vitamin A helps the production and repair of skin cells. Additionally, lycopene could help protect the skin from sun damage. 
Tips and Recipe Ideas
The biggest trouble with watermelon is finding a perfectly ripe one. Here’s what you should look for: firmness, symmetry, and a heavyweight compared to its size. Look for a yellow spot on the bottom of the melon; if the spot is pale or looks white, it might be underripe. 
Watermelon is delicious when eaten on its own, whether it’s sliced or cubed. But there are many ways to incorporate it into your diet without getting sick of it. You could add it in a smoothie or blend it on its own for a refreshing summer drink. Grilling it for a few minutes on each side could be a delicious barbecue addition, since the cooking enhances the natural sweetness.
Add it to a vegetable salad or add it to a fresh green salad with a vinaigrette. You could also make a simple fruit salad with other fresh fruit and garnishes like shredded coconut, fresh ginger, and mint leaves. Make watermelon salsa by mixing it with red onion, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, and lime juice. Watermelon is versatile and could be enjoyed in many ways, so don’t be afraid to get creative!
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- “Watermelon: Health benefits, risks & nutrition facts.” Live Science. Jessie Szalay and Daisy Dobrijevic. November 9, 2022
- “The Top 9 Health Benefits of Watermelon.” Healthline. Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD and Fatima Hallal, APD. February 23, 2023
- “8 Health Benefits of Watermelon.” Health. Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. November 9, 2022
- “The wonders of watermelon.” Mayo Clinic. Kristi Wempen. July 27, 2021