Did you know that watermelons may help prevent cancer and other diseases? Recent studies are just discovering the wonderful benefits of this fruit.
According to Dr. Bhimu Tail, director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, “The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is… the list of its very important health benefits grows longer with each study.”
For starters, every two cups of watermelon (280g) contain 80 calories, zero fat, 27g of carbohydrate, 10mg sodium, 80mcg of vitamin A, lots of vitamin Bs, 80mg of vitamin C, 18mg of lycopene, and ample amounts of potassium, iron, and calcium.
• May help prevent cancer and slow down aging. The deep-red watermelon variety contains the pigment lycopene, which may help prevent prostate cancer. This antioxidant helps counter the bad effects of free radicals circulating in the body. Once we reduce these free radicals, we can theoretically slow down aging. Tomato is another good source of lycopene.
• Good for the eyes. Watermelon’s vitamin A and vitamin C contents are beneficial for our eyes. Yellow watermelon is a good source of lutein, which is important for preventing age-related macular degeneration. So, remember, red watermelon to prevent cancer and yellow watermelon for the eyes.
• Good for the heart and blood vessels. US Department of Agriculture researchers report that eating watermelons increases our body’s arginine levels, an important amino acid (Journal of Nutrition, March 2007). Arginine is a component needed to produce nitric oxide, a substance that relaxes the blood vessels, improves blood flow, and may save us from a heart attack and stroke. In addition, watermelon may help people with high blood pressure because of arginine’s vessel-dilating effect and its potassium and magnesium contents.
• May be good for sex. Citrulline is the special nutrient in watermelon that gives rise to arginine. One gram of watermelon flesh contains 1.5mg of citrulline. When citrulline is converted to arginine, this can lead to the relaxation of the blood vessels, which is the same basic effect of drugs for erectile dysfunction like Viagra and Andros. Watermelon may not be as potent as these drugs, but it can still help the heart, brain, and male sexual organ, too. And watermelon comes without the drug’s side effects.
• Your source of alkaline water. The good news is that watermelon is made of 92% pure alkaline water. A lot has been said about the possible benefits of alkaline water. Compared to the acidic juices of orange and pineapple (which may irritate people with ulcer and gastritis), watermelon is safe for your stomach.
• Good for the mouth and digestive tract. Watermelon has health benefits for the whole digestive tract, starting from the mouth, to the esophagus, and down to the stomach and intestines. Watermelon can relieve the pain of people with singaw or mouth sores. Some experts claim that watermelon can also minimize bad breath. And as it goes down to the intestines, it can treat constipation and normalize your bowel movement.
• Good for the kidneys, bladder, and those with gout. Just like coconut water, watermelons are effective for cleansing the kidneys and bladder. If you have urinary tract infection or kidney stones, drinking lots of watermelon juice (and distilled water, too) can help you with your condition. Moreover, watermelon does not contain uric acid, and can help people with gout by reducing the amount of uric acid in the body.
• Your natural energy drink. Watermelon boasts a rich source of B vitamins, electrolytes, and potassium. The B vitamins are needed for energy production and potassium is essential for heart and muscle contraction. Compared to an apple, watermelon has only half as much sugar, and yet, it tastes sweeter because of its high water content.
• Prevents heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Watermelon has long provided a safe source of fluid for many desert regions in the world. Watermelon’s cooling effect comes from its component citrulline, which is converted to arginine in the body. Arginine can help remove ammonia from the body (bad stuff in the urine). In South Africa, watermelon rind is placed on the forehead and temples to cool a headache. In India, the fruit is being sold by vendors everywhere during summer.
• Treatment for heat rash and burns. Watermelon pulp can be used to treat heat rash and burns. Heat rashes are pimple-like eruptions at the back and chest area due to excessive sweating and heat. Try this as a home remedy: Put a watermelon rind in a refrigerator and let it cool. After a few hours, apply the inner part of the rind on the affected areas of the body. The cooling effect of watermelon rind relieves the heat rash.
And lastly, did you know that researchers have discovered that watermelon contains more glutathione per bite than 95 other fruits and vegetables? For the ladies, glutathione means skin whitening and antioxidants.
Tips for storing watermelon: Watermelon should be left uncut if stored at room temperature. The lycopene levels are still maintained as long as it is not opened. But once you slice it, you need to refrigerate it. You can also cover the watermelon with plastic to prevent the juice from evaporating.
For today, why not try and enjoy a sweet and juicy slice of watermelon? It’s healthy and refreshing!
- Written by Willie T. Ong, MD
- Created: 19 January 2016