Watermelon is a delicious, easy-to-eat summer fruit, making it a staple for Fourth of July barbecues and pool parties all season long. It tastes great on its own, but we love to use watermelon in cocktails, salads, and even as an Instagram-worthy cake. But is watermelon actually good for you? Here’s everything you need to know about the health benefits of watermelon.
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Below you will find the nutrition facts for a one-cup serving of watermelon:
- Calories: 46
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 1mg
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Sugar: 9.5g
- Added Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 1g
- Calcium: 1% DV
Source: USDA Food Composition Database
Watermelon is a low-calorie, low-sugar fruit—even lower in sugar than berries. However, watermelon does contain less fiber than many other fruits. It’s hard to go overboard on watermelon due to its high water content, so you shouldn’t worry about too much about your portion size.
Watermelon is a good source of both Vitamin A and Vitamin C, providing 15% and 12% of your daily recommended intakes, respectively. It is also high in important plant compounds, like antioxidants and amino acids, but more on that in a second.
Watermelon and Hydration
Watermelon is 92% water, making it one of the most hydrating foods you can eat. Other naturally-hydrating foods are iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and pineapple. In fact, eating foods with high water content is thought to be as important for hydration as drinking water.
Watermelon and Heart Health
Citrulline is an amino acid found in watermelon, and has been a major focal point of heart-related research. Amino acids boost heart health by stimulating blood flow throughout the body and improving circulation.
A 2012 study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, found citrulline in watermelon extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure in obese middle-aged adults either with or at risk for hypertension. Citrulline also showed to be effective in menopause by reducing arterial stiffness and systolic blood pressure in a group of postmenopausal women.
Watermelon and Muscle Soreness
Watermelon juice has become a hot item on grocery store shelves, touting itself as an exercise recovery elixir. But how true is this claim, exactly? A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, found the citrulline in watermelon juice was more effective than control drinks and was more readily used by the body than citrulline-supplemented beverages.
In addition to exercise recovery, watermelon has also shown to help with athletic performance. A 2015 study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that participants who supplemented with citrulline were more powerful in high-intensity cardio like cycling than without it. Since we know that citrulline promotes blood flow, incorporating watermelon into our pre- and post-workout routine could potentially be a major help to us during exercise.
Watermelon Helps Fight Inflammation
Our favorite summer fruit contains an amazing phytochemical called lycopene, which you already likely associate with tomatoes. A massive analysis of the health claims around watermelon lycopene found it to be preventative against oxidative stress, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health conditions.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, you can actually boost the lycopene content in watermelon by keeping the fruit at room temperature anywhere from a few days to a week—or until fully ripe. After you’ve cut it, it can be stored in the fridge up to five more days. Plus, the more red your watermelon is, the better it tastes, so it’s a win-win for flavor and health!
Besides lycopene, watermelon is a good source of Vitamin C, which is known as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant and plays a key role in immunity defense. Together, these two have are a powerhouse in fighting off inflammation and oxidative stress.
Watermelon for Skin and Hair Health
Many people use Vitamin A and Vitamin C-based topical creams for their skin, but absorbing those nutrients through food is beneficial too. Vitamin C staves off sun damage, is essential for stimulating collagen, and assists in wound or scar healing. Vitamin A also protects against damaging UV rays and counteracts against skin wrinkling and irregular pigmentation.
Since watermelon is a good source of both vitamins—and provides ample hydration—we think it can be a great tool for healthy skin and hair.