Secret Side Effects of Eating Watermelon, Says Science
Is there anything better than eating a freshly cut melon on a hot summer day? Watermelon is notorious for bringing feel-good summer vibes. This sweet fruit packs a nutritious punch as well. It is high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and is actually a low-sugar fruit when compared cup-for-cup to other tropical fruits.
Yet, beyond its nutritional composition, you may experience a few of these secret side effects of eating watermelon. Some may even surprise you!
Worsened digestive issues.
Watermelon is high in fructose which is a plant compound in the FODMAPs category. People with a history of digestive issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), may need to limit FODMAPs in order to feel their best.
Not everyone is susceptible to FODMAPs, and experimenting with an elimination protocol may work for you if you suspect watermelon is contributing to your tummy troubles!
Read more about foods to avoid for IBS here.
Helps neutralize cancer cells.
Watermelon is high in antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in the body. Left unchecked, free radicals have the ability to form cancer cells.
Lycopene is the star of the show here. Typically, tomatoes take all the credit for providing a good source of lycopene. Yet, watermelon actually provides nearly 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes!
Antioxidants like lycopene help fight cancer, promote anti-aging, and repair damaged cells in the body.
Satiety is the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Finding foods that enhance satiety are a recipe for success when trying to pay attention to portion size. Feeling satiated makes eating proper portions easier.
One important contributing factor to satiety is the total volume of food consumed. Thus, being able to eat a greater quantity, gives one the sensation of fullness. Watermelon offers this benefit due to its high water content. In other words, since the fruit is quite juicy, you can eat more of it for lower total calories when compared to other fruits.
Helps manage weight.
Researchers in a 2019 study published in Nutrients found that eating 2 cups of watermelon per day improved weight management efforts through increased satiety. In fact, they compared the watermelon group to an isocaloric cookie group. Meaning, the researchers fed the two groups the same amount of calories: one group getting those calories from watermelon and the other from low-fat cookies.
Research like this shows that not all calories are created equal: some calories can actually cause us to feel more full, more satisfied, and end up eating less over the course of the day!
Look out for these summer season foods to emphasize in your diet for weight management.
May trigger migraines.
A recent study on migraine triggers found that watermelon might be more triggering than other fruits. Researchers reviewed a variety of fruits including watermelon, passion fruit, orange, pineapple, grape, banana, cucumber, and papaya.
Yet, watermelon was associated with far more incidence of migraines—sometimes within minutes of consuming the fruit! Nearly 30% of participants experienced migraines within roughly 90 minutes of consuming watermelon!
A previous version of this article was originally published on July 12, 2021.
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