Here's What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Watermelon Every Day
Summer is peak watermelon season—prime-time to stock up on a few of these heavy, well-hydrated "fruits" for snacking and to incorporate them into your warm-weather meals.
Watermelon is sweet, refreshing, low in calories, and loaded with health benefits. But have you ever thought about what happens to your body when you're eating watermelon a lot… or even every day? Here are 15 ways eating a slice or two daily can help your body—including one tip that suggests you shouldn't spit out those pits, but eat 'em.
It'll wet your whistle.
A watermelon is between 90% and 95% water so it's a sweet way to stay hydrated in summer's heat. They're such a great source of essential hydration that early explorers carried them instead of canteens. It's no wonder it's one of the best water-rich, hydrating foods!
It may lower your blood pressure.
Let's break this down a bit. A cup of watermelon chunks contains 170 milligrams of potassium. This essential electrolyte and mineral is helpful for lessening the effects of sodium on blood pressure and is also important for proper nervous system function, according to the Mayo Clinic. And in fact, a small study of 13 middle-aged obese men and women with hypertension at Florida State University found that watermelon could reduce blood pressure both at rest and while people were under stress. "The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract," said associate professor Arturo Figueroa, author of study, which was published in the American Journal of Hypertension. And if you're looking to add more foods like this to your diet, be sure to check out the 20 Healthiest Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.
It'll help you reach your daily veggie quota.
Yes, watermelon is one of those that can be considered both a fruit and a vegetable, as it's a member of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae (classified as Citrullus lantus), and related to the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin, according to the American Society for Horticultural Science. But it's sweet and juicy like a fruit, which is why the juicy flesh is most commonly eaten as a fruit in the U.S.
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It may help you lose weight.
Eating chunks of fresh watermelon as an appetizer or in a salad is a good low-cal (just 40 per cup) way to fill up before a meal and it could be a useful weight-loss strategy, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients. The study conducted involved 33 overweight or obese men and women who were instructed to eat 2 cups of fresh diced watermelon daily for four weeks. During a separate four-week period, the participants were asked to eat a low- calorie cookie snack daily consisting of the same number of calories as the watermelon snack. The subjects ate and exercised normally. At the conclusion of the test, subjects reported that the desire to eat was significantly reduced for up to 90 minutes after consuming watermelon while hunger didn't change after eating the cookies.
The researchers also found that participants lost weight after four weeks of snacking on watermelon and gained after the low-fat cookie intervention. Waist-to-hip ratio also was lower at week four of the watermelon snacking compared with the same week of cookie eating.
It'll keep you regular.
Watermelon isn't really a great source of dietary fiber, but its high water content will help you go to the bathroom like clockwork.
It may give you gas or diarrhea.
On the flipside though, like apples and pears, watermelon is pretty high in fructose and can cause gas and diarrhea, especially if you have bowel sensitivity or gorge on a whole bunch of it.
It could improve your libido.
A 2008 press release from Texas A&M University about a study done there made worldwide news when a researcher suggested a particular beneficial function of the phyto-nutrient citrulline, which is found abundant in watermelon—better blood flow.
When you eat watermelon, enzymes in your body convert citrulline into arginine, an amino acid that's good for the heart and circulatory system because it relaxes blood vessels, making them more pliable. Good blood flow is critical to arousal in men and women. But you would have to consume a lot of watermelon to, in theory, enjoy the benefits of an arginine boost. Lots and lots of watermelon. Another study published in Nutrition found that it took drinking three to six eight-ounce glasses of watermelon juice per day for three weeks to elevate volunteers' blood levels of arginine by 12% to 22%.
It may keep the cardiologist away.
A compound in watermelon has been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol and decrease the amount of artery-clogging plaque in a study conducted by researchers from Purdue University and University of Kentucky in 2014.
In the experiment, researchers fed two groups of mice a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol. One group was also given water containing watermelon juice while the other group was given water containing a solution that matched the carbohydrate content of the watermelon juice. The mice that drank the watermelon juice ended up with 50% less LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in their blood, and also saw a 50% reduction in plaque in their arteries. What's more, the experimental group of mice gained 30% less weight than the control group did. The researchers suggest that citrulline, a compound in watermelon, may be responsible for the positive outcome.
It may help you reduce your consumption of added sugars.
A slice or two of watermelon is a lot more nutritious than a watermelon-flavored freeze pop full of high-fructose corn syrup. And it's a much more healthful dessert or snack than almost any baked good or packaged confection. So, eating nature's sweet treat can help you cut down on your consumption of sugar if you use it as a substitute for those unhealthy options. Plus, watermelon is a good source of vitamins A, B-1 and B-6, calcium magnesium, potassium, iron, and lycopene.
It may raise your blood sugar.
Watermelon is sweet because it contains fructose (fruit sugar), about 17 grams per slice. If you eat a couple of slices, it may slightly raise your blood sugar, which may be a concern if you have prediabetes or diabetes. However, because of its high-water content, watermelon has a low "glycemic load" (GL), and glycemic load is considered a more useful way to look at the impact of foods on blood sugar.
While "glycemic index" (GI) represents how fast sugar enters the bloodstream, GL indicates how high a specific food might raise blood sugar levels. Watermelon has a glycemic load of 2 for a 100-gram serving, which is considered low. A high GL is anything 19 and above. So, as long as you eat watermelon in moderation along with a balanced diet of fats, proteins, fiber, and other carbohydrates, it is safe to eat even if you have type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Its vitamin C content may help prevent asthma.
Watermelon and other fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C may fight the inflammatory free radicals that some experts believe trigger the development of asthma. A meta-analysis in the journal Nutrients found six of seven studies suggesting that higher fruit and vegetable consumption may offer a protective effect against lung inflammation and asthma.
It'll ease muscle soreness after exercise.
Tough workout planned? Eat some watermelon or drink watermelon juice before exercising. A study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that athletes who did that reported reduced next-day muscle soreness and a slower heart rate. The researchers attribute the positive effects to watermelon's citrulline content, which improves circulation.
It'll load you up on lycopene.
Like that other red-colored summertime favorite—tomatoes—watermelon contains high amounts of lycopene, a potent antioxidant with cancer-preventive properties. Scientists have proposed that lycopene might protect against DNA damage, stop cancer cell growth, and boost enzymes that break down cancer-causing products, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. One clinical trial suggested that lycopene supplements may reduce the spread of localized prostate cancer.
It may protect your eyesight.
Carotenoids like lycopene are associated with decreased risk of macular degeneration, an age-related wearing down of the retina that's a leading cause of vision loss in people over age 60. Watermelon is rich in both lycopene and vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant that's good for your vision. In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study of 5,000 people ages 55 to 89, researchers found that people with moderate macular degeneration slowed the progression of the disease after taking daily supplements containing beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
The seeds make for a great snack.
Don't believe the long-standing myth—swallowing watermelon seeds won't sprout vines in your bowels. In fact, watermelon seeds are nutritious—and tasty; roast them the way you would pumpkin seeds.
A "Comprehensive Review on Watermelon Seed—The Spitted One" from the International Journal of Current Research declares that the watermelon's "neglected food parts" are quite valuable as a food source, rich in protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, and monounsaturated "good" fats. Sprinkle with a little olive oil over the seeds and roast them on a baking pan in an oven set at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. When crispy, dust with cinnamon, chili powder, or Old Bay.