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Watermelon: Health benefits, nutrition, and risks

When we think about well-known phytonutrients, the category of carotenoids comes quickly to mind. Watermelon is a surprisingly healthy fruit.

Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it's consumed as a component of watermelon juice. Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects. The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline. The possible benefits of watermelon rind include better heart health, and even a better time in bed.

Moreover, the bioavailable of lycopene from red-fleshed watermelon appears to be greater .. This 3X status is what makes the resulting watermelon "seedless. That classic summertime fruit, watermelon, has a lot more to offer than sweet taste. It's chock-full of nutrients that help your body thrive. Check out what you get .

All rights reserved. Big, sloppy slices of watermelon served at a picnic table are the quintessential summer snack—sweet enough to be dessert but, as several recent studies remind us, good for our health as well. And only 84 calories per wedge! According to a new study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistrydrinking watermelon juice before a hard workout helped reduce athletes' heart rate and next-day muscle soreness.

That's because watermelon is rich in an amino acid called L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, an essential amino acid that helps relax whats in a watermelon vessels and improve circulation. The study's seven participants, all men, were given 17 ounces mL of either upper spine watermelon juice, watermelon juice enriched with additional whats in a watermelon, or a placebo drink an hour before their workouts.

Interestingly, the natural juice was just as effective as the enriched juice. The researchers also determined that intestinal cells can absorb more citrulline from watermelon juice than from citrulline supplements, especially when the juice is unpasteurized. Postmenopausal women experienced improved cardiovascular health after six weeks of taking commercially available watermelon extract supplements containing citrulline and arginine, according to a study published earlier this year by Florida State University physiologist Arturo Figueroa.

And in a study—also led by Figueroa—such supplements helped alleviate high blood pressure in obese, middle-aged adults. Not surprisingly, he's received two grants from the Watermelon Promotion Board. Improved circulation can benefit more than just the whats in a watermelon, as at least one watermelon researcher has pointed out. But you'd probably have to eat an awful lot to achieve the desired effect--and eating too much could cause unfortunate side effects, since watermelon has long had a reputation as a natural diuretic.

Given its name, you might assume the has little nutritional value—and it is more than 90 percent water. But a ounce mL wedge of watermelon packs in about one-third of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and Cas well as a modest amount of potassium 9 percent of the daily value.

Watch: Cranberry Harvest. Watermelon is among the best dietary sources of lycopenean antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate whats in a watermelon, although scientists are still investigating the details of that connection. Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic.

Read Caption. Ear-deep in watermelon, a boy eats a juicy slice at a festival. Five Reasons to Eat Watermelon Studies link the summer treat to many health benefits. By Amanda FieglNational Geographic. It could be a natural Viagra. It's rich in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. It could even combat cancer. Continue Whats in a watermelon.

It contains only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds. However, eating foods that have a high water content can also help. The combination of water and fiber means you're eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories. As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup grams. That's lower than even low-sugar fruits such as berries 2.

One cup grams of watermelon has many other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:. Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.

Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn't change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon and is linked to many health benefits.

Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E. Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects. Though lycopene intake is associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, study results are mixed.

The strongest link so far seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system 1. It appears to reduce cancer risk by lowering insulin-like growth factor IGF , a protein involved in cell division. High IGF levels are linked to cancer 3. In addition, cucurbitacin E has been investigated for its ability to inhibit tumor growth 4 , 5.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide 6. Lifestyle factors, including diet , may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol 1. According to studies in obese, postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls 7 , 8.

Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, which lowers blood pressure 9. Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart.

These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium and potassium 1. Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases. Watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage, as it's rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C 1. In a study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet.

Compared to the control group, they developed lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and less oxidative stress In an earlier study, humans were given lycopene-rich tomato juice with added vitamin C. Overall, their markers of inflammation went down and antioxidants went up.

Watermelon has both lycopene and vitamin C As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease Lycopene is found in several parts of the eye where it helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation. It may also prevent age-related macular degeneration AMD.

This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults 1. Lycopene's role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse. Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness. One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink.

Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline.

Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it's consumed as a component of watermelon juice. Other research has also looked at citrulline's potential to improve exercise endurance and performance. So far, citrulline doesn't seem to improve exercise performance in the amounts studied, but it's still an area of research interest Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.

Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong. Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A , your skin can look dry and flaky. Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.

Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently. Eating water-rich and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, can be very helpful for promoting normal bowel movements. Watermelon is a surprisingly healthy fruit.

It has a high water content and also delivers many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C. These nutrients mean that watermelon isn't only a tasty low-calorie treat — it's also very good for your health.

Find out if watermelon can work like Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction ED. If you have diabetes, watching what you eat is crucial. Fruits loaded with natural sugars can be tricky. Here's what you should know about watermelon. How much nutrition you reap from watermelon seeds depends on how many you eat. The possible benefits of watermelon rind include better heart health, and even a better time in bed.

Eating fruit can boost your health and help prevent disease. Here are the 20 healthiest fruits on earth, backed by science. If you're watching your sugar intake for dietary reasons or because of your diabetes, you can often be surprised by how much sugar is contained, even…. The watermelon diet can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, and cleanse your body of toxins — at least according to the Internet chatter….

This is an evidence-based review of watermelon, with detailed information on its health benefits, nutrient content, plant compounds and more. Watermelon is a staple of summer. Though rare, it's possible to be allergic to watermelon. Here's what you need to know to recognize a watermelon…. Watermelon is a refreshing treat, but is it safe for babies? Helps You Hydrate. Contains Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds.

May Improve Heart Health. May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration. May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness. Is Good for Skin and Hair. Can Improve Digestion. The Bottom Line. The 5 Best Watermelon Seed Benefits. The 20 Healthiest Fruits on the Planet.

Read this next. The Watermelon Diet: Fact or Fiction? Watermelon Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Medically reviewed by Aninda Das, MD.