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Watermelon is a popular summer food that makes an appearance at many backyard barbecues and picnics. But this melon is more than a tasty treat on a hot day. Watermelon is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients and may even help you ward off disease.
Here are seven health benefits of watermelon and how to add more of it to your diet.
1. Keeps you hydrated
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- Regulating body temperature
- Cushioning and lubricating joints
- Reducing fatigue
- Improving focus
2. Contains essential vitamins
Watermelon contains many essential vitamins your body needs, including:
- Vitamin A, which helps maintain eyesight and support lung health.
- Vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron and keeps the immune system strong.
- Vitamin B6, which also helps support the immune system and heart health.
- Magnesium, which helps regulate muscle and nerve function.
One cup of watermelon contains:
- 15 mg of magnesium (3-5% RDA)
- 12 mg of vitamin C (13-16% RDA)
- 0.068 mg of vitamin B6 (5% RDA)
- 42.6 mg of vitamin A (5-6% RDA)
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Watermelon also contains important minerals known as electrolytes, one of which is potassium. Electrolytes are crucial for keeping us hydrated, contracting our muscles, and regulating pH levels.
3. Assists in weight management
One cup of watermelon contains about 45 calories, making it a low-calorie snack. The high water content in watermelon can also be filling and help you eat fewer calories overall, Beil says.
A small 2019 study examining the effects of watermelon consumption on satiety and body weight in overweight and obese adults found those who consumed two cups of watermelon daily for four weeks reported feeling less hungry and lost significantly more weight than the group who consumed low-fat cookies with the same amount of calories.
4. May prevent muscle soreness
The way it works is that L-citrulline dilates blood vessels, opening them up to allow for more blood flow to the muscles which can decrease soreness by improving the supply of oxygen during exercise, says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition.
A small 2013 study found that participants who drank plain watermelon juice or watermelon juice mixed with citrulline experienced less muscle soreness after a workout than the group that drank only a citrulline drink.
5. May lower blood pressure
Because citrulline helps open and relax blood vessels, it can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, Shapiro says. Staying properly hydrated can also help improve blood pressure because it helps the heart pump blood to muscles more effectively.
A small 2012 study found watermelon extract supplementation reduced blood pressure in obese adults with hypertension (high blood pressure) or prehypertension, but more studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions for a broader population.
6. Reduces risk of disease
Watermelon contains the antioxidant, lycopene, which can help ward off diseases, like cancer or heart disease, Shapiro says. This antioxidant is also present in other red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes.
Some studies have indicated lycopene may help protect against certain cancers, like prostate cancer. This is because lycopene appears to lower the insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein linked to cancer in high levels.
7. Improves digestion
Fiber is important for digestion because it adds bulk to stool, making it easier to pass, Shapiro says. Watermelon doesn’t contain much fiber — about one gram per cup — but its high water content can help improve digestion by moving along waste, Beil says.
Watermelon is more than a tasty treat. It is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can reduce your risk of certain diseases and help you maintain a healthy weight.
You can eat watermelon plain or add it to a salad with arugula, tomatoes, and feta cheese. You can also press it into a juice or freeze it to make watermelon ice pops.
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