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7 health benefits of watermelon that prove it’s the perfect summer snack

Summary List PlacementWatermelon 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 Related Article Module: 7 science-backed benefits of drinking water — and how much water you should drink each day A medium-sized watermelon is about 92% water, so it's a great option to keep you hydrated,...

watermelon

Summary List Placement

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

Related Article Module: 7 science-backed benefits of drinking water — and how much water you should drink each day

A medium-sized watermelon is about 92% water, so it’s a great option to keep you hydrated, says Elizabeth Beil, RDN, founder of Elizabeth Beil Nutrition

Water is an essential part of functioning at our best. In fact, water makes up 60% of our body composition, which explains why it plays a major role in nearly every system in the body, like: 

  • 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)

Related Article Module: Electrolytes 101: Everything you need to know about these essential minerals

 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 

Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that may help reduce muscle soreness after a workout

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. 

Insider’s takeaway 

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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