Top 5 health benefits of watermelon
Registered Nutritionist, Nicola Shubrook, outlines the benefits of this hydrating fruit and explains why it's so rich in beta-carotene.
What is watermelon?
Watermelon is a very large vine fruit that grows on the ground. It has a hard, green-striped skin which is inedible. Inside is a soft, bright pink-red flesh with black seeds, both of which can be consumed.
Watermelons are grown in a number of countries, including China, Turkey, Iran, Brazil and the United States.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides and check out some of our favourite watermelon recipes, from our watermelon salsa to our watermelon, prawn and avocado salad.
Nutritional profile of watermelon
An 80g serving provides:
- 25 Kcal / 106 KJ
- 0.4g Protein
- 0.2g Fat
- 5.7g Carbohydrates
- 0.1g Fibre
- 80mg Potassium
- 93mcg Carotene
- 6mg Vitamin C
An 80g serving counts as one of your five-a-day. Check out our printable infographic to find out what else counts towards your 5-a-day.
What are the top health benefits of watermelon?
1. Supports hydration
Maintaining hydration is essential for health with even modest levels of dehydration likely to manifest as tiredness, headaches, muscle cramps and possible blood pressure problems. Watermelon is largely made up of water (92%), with 20% of our water needs acquired from food, including watermelon can make a useful contribution and especially so for the elderly who are less responsive to the sensation of thirst.
2. May support weight management
Thanks to its high-water content watermelon has a low-calorie density, this means a large slice of watermelon has a relatively small calorie contribution. Eating foods, like this, which are both filling but low in calories appears to help promote fullness and reduce appetite.
3. May support healthy skin and eyes
The pink-red flesh of the watermelon tells us its rich in compounds called carotenoids, including beta-carotene, which we convert to vitamin A. Often called pro-vitamin A, beta-carotene, helps keep our eyes and skin healthy.
4. Rich source of lycopene
Another carotenoid found in watermelon is lycopene, in fact the type of lycopene in watermelon is more readily available to us, making watermelon an especially useful source. Lycopene has received much attention and is believed to be effective in reducing the risk of certain cancers, supporting heart and eye health and reducing the potential of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
5. May support blood pressure and exercise performance
Recent findings suggest phytonutrients found in watermelon, specifically L-citrulline may help lower blood pressure and improve exercise performance in young healthy adults.
Is watermelon safe for everyone?
Watermelon is safe for most people to enjoy however there are a small number of people who may be allergic, although this is rare. Allergy may occur as a result of cross reactivity whereby someone allergic to certain pollens, such as the ragweed or grass pollens, may react to watermelon also.
While some allergic reactions can be mild, they can also be life-threatening so if any signs of a severe allergy appear, such as breathing difficulties, trouble swallowing or speaking, or feeling dizzy and faint, emergency medical care should be sought.
Read more from the NHS about food allergies and when to seek help.
Watermelon & feta salad
Watermelon, prawn & avocado salad
Heirloom tomato & watermelon salad
Grilled aubergine, watermelon & sesame salad
Duck, watermelon & herb salad
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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