Watermelon Improves Cardiovascular Health and Four More Things You Need to Know

June 17, 2015

Five great reasons to eat watermelon!

Watermelon offers a refreshing pause to hot summer days, and so much more. They are incredibly nutritious, full of water to keep you hydrated – hence the name – and whether seeded or seedless they are readily available and taste great as a dessert or even in a salad! Here are 5 things you need to know about watermelon.

Watermelon might help your cardiovascular system, specifically blood pressure. A study in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that just six weeks of consumption of L-citrulline extracted from watermelon normalized blood pressure in adults who previously had elevated blood pressure. Watermelon is the richest known edible source of the amino acid L-citrulline. Of course the study looked at very high levels from an extraction, but still a small amount of watermelon daily would make for a great dessert substitution.  Keep in mind that elevated blood pressure (or hypertension) affects approximately one in three adults according to the CDC, and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.

Watermelons are nearly 92 percent water and are excellent sources of several vitamins including, vitamin A, an antioxidant which helps prevent macular degeneration and thus maintain eye health; vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy. And we can’t forget potassium and magnesium which help muscle and nerve function and help maintain the body's proper electrolyte balance.

Watermelon also has the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable (think orange and red produce – tomatoes are an excellent source), a powerful antioxidant that improves cardiovascular function and is said to prevent several types of cancer. In addition, an increasing number of researchers now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. According to a USDA study, the quantity of carotenoids from watermelon, particularly lycopene and beta-carotene, increases if stored at room temperature.

Should you eat the seeds? Watermelon seeds can provide us with small but helpful amounts of both iron and zinc. It would take several hundred to reach significant amounts, but still, regular consumption of whole, seeded watermelon would provide us with nutrient benefits over time. In addition, 24 seeds has about 1 gram of protein. So after several slices of whole, seeded watermelon, you might net a couple of grams.

How to shop for watermelon? Look for melons that have a smooth skin, and are heavy for their size. Another quick tip is to look for an area on the rind that is yellowish or different from the rest. This dull spot is the place that was resting on the ground during ripening, and can indicate a good ripe fruit.

Watermelon is extremely versatile and can be used in fruit salads, beverages, savory salads and even cold soups. 

Reference: WhFoods