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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Watermelon

Is this sweet summer treat as healthy as you think? We have the answer.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman
watermelon

It doesn't get much better than biting into a crisp, juicy watermelon on a hot summer day. These red-fleshed fruits are a staple of barbecues and pool parties for their refreshing taste, hydrating quench, and hand-held convenience. Watermelon can be part of almost any healthy diet—after all, they're low-calorie, allergen-free, and even low-carb. And you might be surprised to learn that, amidst all that water, watermelon offers significant amounts of micronutrients. Then again, eating too much of this summertime favorite can come with some drawbacks. Here are six things that may happen to your body when you eat watermelon. And for more good-for-you foods, check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

You'll get hydrated.

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Call us Captain Obvious, but watermelon is an extremely hydrating fruit. In fact, since it's made up of 92% water, it's one of the highest-water-content foods on the planet.

While the jury is still out on exactly how much water you need to drink per day (and individual needs vary from person to person), not all of your daily liquids have to come from a glass or bottle. In fact, it can be much tastier to get them from food—like watermelon! Staying hydrated helps prevent fatigue and headaches, flushes waste from the body, and can improve skin tone and elasticity.

You can also get hydrated from these 23 Water-Rich, Hydrating Foods.

2

You may lower the risk of certain cancers.

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Ever heard of lycopene? If this sciencey-sounding word seems familiar, it's probably because you've seen it touted as an antioxidant in tomatoes (and ketchup). But tomatoes aren't the only red fruits that pack a punch of lycopene. In fact, research shows that watermelon contains about 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes.

So what does this mean for your health? As an antioxidant, lycopene helps "clean" your cells of damage, which may help prevent some cancers. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, preliminary studies have shown an association between a diet rich in lycopene and a reduced risk of cancers of the breast, prostate, and lung. More research is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but it's safe to say you can feel good if you love to eat watermelon.

Here's Why You Need Antioxidants In Your Diet—And How To Eat More Of Them.

3

You'll boost heart health.

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Lycopene's potential doesn't stop there! This powerful antioxidant may also have positive effects on heart health. A 2013 meta-analysis found that high doses of lycopene helped decrease high blood pressure, especially in people with a higher systolic BP. Plus, an amino acid in watermelon called L-citrulline could support cardiovascular health by maintaining healthy blood flow during exercise. And since watermelons are rich in magnesium and low in calories, it's no wonder they're an American Heart Association Heart-Check Certified food.

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4

You could recover better from workouts.

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Feeling extra sore after hitting the gym? Watermelon to the rescue! A small study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that athletes who drank watermelon juice as an exercise beverage reported less soreness and slower heart rate 24 hours after working out. Researchers believe the L-citrulline in the melons is the ticket to their impact on exercise recovery.

5

You could lose weight.

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The so-called Watermelon Diet is a fad we wouldn't recommend—but including watermelon in your diet can definitely aid weight loss. Watermelons are not only extremely hydrating, which helps keep you full, but they're also surprisingly low carb. One cup of balled watermelon contains just 12 grams of carbs. Compare that with grapes or bananas, which have more than double the carbs!

Meanwhile, no one can argue with watermelon's low-calorie count for weight loss. At just 46 calories per cup, you can nosh on a large portion while taking in just a fraction of your daily calorie target.

Looking for other weight loss-friendly fruits? Head to our list of the top 9 Fruits for Weight Loss.

6

You could experience digestive problems.

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It's common to eat watermelon as a healthy snack or barbecue side, but too much of it can pose digestive problems–and not from accidentally eating seeds. (Childhood myth busted: you won't sprout a watermelon vine in your belly.) Instead, it's watermelon's water content that might lead to discomfort. Excess fluid in your digestive tract can cause abdominal distention or diarrhea.

For those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, watermelon could be a no-no for another reason. The fruit contains fructans, fructose, and polyols—all of which fall under the umbrella of FODMAPs. These fermentable carbohydrates can be particularly difficult for people with IBS to digest. If you're an IBS sufferer, don't miss our list of high- and low-FODMAP foods.

Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more
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