Watermelon is one of those fruits that is hard not to love. Each bite is sweet, juicy, and refreshing and is a great food to keep adding to your grocery list.
Not only is watermelon delicious, but it has several health benefits as well.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about watermelon.
Did You Know?:Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
Table of Contents
- Types of Watermelon
- Nutrition Facts
- Health Benefits
- Potential Risks
- Frequently Asked Questions
Watermelon (Citrullus) is native to Northeastern Africa and has been cultivated since ancient times (1). Watermelon is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), similar to the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin (2). The watermelon we know today is not the same type of wild watermelon that was eaten back then. The fruit flesh of wild watermelons is known to be watery, but has a hard texture, is pale-colored, and bland or bitter.
The sweet-tasting watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) that is most commonly eaten today was believed to be selectively grown around 2,000 years ago (3). This large round fruit has a green rind with red flesh that is sweet. These types of watermelons are technically dessert watermelons. The United States currently ranks 7th in worldwide production of watermelon while China is the number one producer of it.
Watermelon’s peak season is typically between July and August (4). However, you will often find it tastes just as good from May until September. Watermelon grows best in hot, sunny weather but can be purchased in almost any grocery store or farmer’s market (5).
Fun Fact:According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon was grown by Chris Kent of Sevierville, Tennessee in 2013, weighing in at 350.5 lbs.
Types of Watermelon
There are over 1,200 different varieties of watermelon in the world across 96 countries worldwide (6). Some of the most common types of watermelon include seedless, picnic, icebox, and yellow/orange-fleshed (7). Most varieties of watermelon share a distinct flavor with juicy and sugary flesh that is encased by a solid rind. Some watermelon types have higher sugar content and are sweeter, and some varieties have different colored rind and flesh (8).
The most common watermelon consumed which is what will be discussed in this article is the dessert watermelon. Dessert watermelon is oblong, dark green watermelon with vibrant, ruby red pulp and a sweet flavor (9). However, remember that melons may also be light pink, yellow, and even orange. Size is variable among watermelons and can range from as low as 5 pounds up to 200 pounds.
Summary:There are over 1,200 different varieties of watermelon grown across 96 countries worldwide, and can vary in size, color, and shape.
In general, the most common watermelon on the market contains similar macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
In one cup (around 152 grams) of diced watermelon, there are the following macronutrients (10):
- Calories: 45 calories (kcal)
- Protein: 0.9 grams (g)
- Fat: 0.2 grams (g)
- Carbohydrate: 11.5 grams (g)
- Fiber: 0.6 grams (g)
- Water: 139 grams (g)
Watermelon is relatively low in calories and contains a high amount of water (11). Watermelon contains 91 percent water. So not only is it likely to make you feel full faster and longer because of the high water content, it is an excellent choice if you are having a hard time staying hydrated. It is one of the highest fruits containing water.
Summary:Watermelon is low in calories and very high in water content, which can help with keeping hydrated and satiety.
Vitamin and Minerals
In one cup (around 152 grams) of diced watermelon, there are the following vitamins and minerals (12):
- Calcium: 10.6 milligrams (mg)
- Magnesium: 15.2 milligrams (mg)
- Phosphorus: 16.7 milligrams (mg)
- Potassium: 170 milligrams (mg)
- Fluoride: 2.28 micrograms (µg)
- Vitamin C: 12.3 milligrams (mg)
- Folate: 4.56 micrograms (µg)
- Choline: 6.23 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin A: 42.6 micrograms (µg)
- Beta carotene: 461 micrograms (µg)
- Lycopene: 6890 micrograms (µg)
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 12.2 micrograms (µg)
Watermelon is high in vitamin A and vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and even folate, making it extremely healthy and beneficial for the body (13). Watermelon is so nutritious, you can even eat the rinds.
Furthermore, watermelon contains vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient (14). One cup may provide as much as up to 10-15% of the RDI (reference daily intake). Watermelons are also full of potassium, which is an essential mineral that plays a big part in blood pressure regulation in the body.
In addition to tons of vitamins and minerals watermelon contains a large amount of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been studied often for its potential health benefits. Another antioxidant, beta carotene, is also in watermelon. These nutrients and compounds are just a few of the several other beneficial compounds that you will find in watermelon.
Summary:Watermelon is high in several vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and even folate.
There are several health benefits when it comes to eating watermelon.
May Support Weight Loss
Watermelon is extremely high in its water content of 91%, meaning the majority of the fruit is water. Additionally, watermelon has a low caloric density — in other words, very few calories for its total weight.
So, eating watermelon can make you feel full quickly and keep you feeling full, while overall eating a low number of calories. Eating foods with low-calorie densities, such as watermelon, may aid weight management by keeping you feeling full for longer (15).
Summary:The high water content in watermelon may help with increasing satiety and help with weight loss.
It May Help Relieve Joint Pain and Inflammation
Watermelon is not only great for the skin, but it can also even help to improve joint pain and inflammation. When inflammation remains under control, it is less likely to develop disease since the disease can only survive in an inflamed state.
Because watermelon is high in potassium, it can help to keep joints feeling and functioning well and help prevent injuries. A diet low in potassium has been found to cause muscle cramps, aches, spasms, and heart problems (16).
Eating watermelon can also help decrease inflammation. Inflammation plays a key role in most chronic diseases. Watermelon is high in antioxidants like beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene, which many studies have shown lowers the inflammatory marker CRP or C-Reactive Protein (17). Furthermore, watermelon’s lycopene and vitamin C may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage.
Summary:Watermelon is high in potassium and antioxidants, which can help with joint pain and decrease inflammation overall.
It May Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer
The antioxidants in watermelon are so powerful they can even help to protect against certain types of cancer. That is because antioxidants help the body naturally fight free-radical buildup, preventing cell damage. Several plant compounds found in watermelon, including lycopene and cucurbitacin E, have possible anticancer effects.
Watermelon is high in the antioxidant called lycopene, which breaks down harmful free radicals in the body. It’s also the same antioxidant that is in tomatoes and pink guava. Lycopene intake may be associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, such as prostate and colorectal cancers.
Watermelon is also high in vitamin C, which also further helps to decrease free radicals in the body. Including more watermelon can help prevent problems in the prostate and the adrenal glands (18). The more antioxidants you include in your diet from fruits and vegetables, the better your chances will be of slowing down cell damage (19).
Summary:The antioxidants in watermelon have been suggested in research to decrease the risk of cancers like prostate and colorectal cancers.
Ways to Consume
Watermelon can be an easy addition to almost any meal or snack of the day. If you aren’t in the mood for eating it, you can try watermelon by drinking its juice. Depending on the juicing method, the benefits compared to eating whole watermelon may differ but it is nonetheless a great alternative.
Here are some other ways to consume that you may or may not already be aware of:
- Slice it
- Turn it into a lollipop by adding it to the end of a stick
- Chunk it into cubes
- Add it to your favorite smoothie
- Carve it into a fun shape or theme for your next big event or pool party
- Grill it
- Season it your way. To add some spice, sprinkle a bit of tajin on top!
- Juice it
- Top it on your favorite summer salad.
- Substitute it for tomato as part of a Caprese dish with mozzarella and balsamic
- Make it with other fruits or vegetables as a watermelon salsa
- Use the rind to make a chutney or slaw
Did You Know?:In China and Japan, watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.
In general, eating watermelon is part of an overall balanced diet. However, there are some things to keep in mind when consuming watermelon.
Some of the potential risks of regularly consuming watermelon include:
- Rise in blood sugar levels: When eating watermelon, blood sugar levels will naturally rise. Although watermelon is a low-glycemic food and will only have a slight risk of increasing blood sugar levels, certain people may need to pay particular attention to their sugar levels like persons with diabetes. Watermelon is typically safe for those who do not have to monitor their blood sugar levels.
- Over-hydration: Watermelon is so high in water content which comes with the risk of causing water intoxication. Water intoxication can deplete the body’s sodium intake and cause swelling in the legs (20).
- High Potassium Content: While a moderate amount of watermelon is beneficial, people that are sensitive to potassium because of certain medications or medical conditions should consume it with caution. In addition, consuming too much watermelon can provide the body with too much potassium and cause an increase in heart rate.
Eating a moderate amount of watermelon is safe for most people, while overconsumption can cause negative health effects. Consult with a healthcare practitioner if you are unsure what foods work best with your health conditions.
Summary:Overall, watermelon is safe to consume for the majority of people. However, it can have a negative impact on blood sugar, hydration level, and potassium levels for certain people.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better, seedless or seeded watermelons?
When it comes to eating seedless or seeded watermelons, it all comes down to preference. You will often find black or white seeds in watermelons but both are equally as tasty. Regardless of which one you decide on, both types of watermelon seeds are perfectly safe to consume in moderation. No, they won’t grow inside your stomach.
How should my watermelon be stored?
Watermelon can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but will typically last longer in the refrigerator. Additionally, if the watermelon was cold when you bought it, then it may be beneficial to continue to keep it cold. Some research has shown that room-temperature watermelon has higher nutrient levels, but it cannot have ever been refrigerated.
Is my watermelon safe to eat if it cracked?
When cut open, some watermelons that you may come across have something that looks like a big crack on the inside. This is often caused by certain growing conditions that the watermelon endured, which can include cold snaps and heat waves. It is a common condition that is called Hollow Heart. These watermelons are perfectly safe to eat, and they often taste sweeter as sugars are more concentrated along the cracks.
Did You Know?:Watermelon was found in King Tut’s tomb.
Watermelon is a deliciously satisfying, thirst-quenching fruit that many people enjoy year-round and especially in the heat of summer.
It has a very high water content and provides nutrients like lycopene, citrulline, and vitamins A and C.
Studies suggest that this sweet, juicy melon may promote weight loss, decrease inflammation, lower the risk of cancer, and promote digestive health.
Pick up or grow a watermelon this season to see for yourself just how delectable and nutritious it is.