Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that’s also good for you.
It contains only 46 calories per cup, but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds.
Here are the top 8 health benefits of eating watermelon.
1. Helps You Hydrate
Watermelon has a high water content. This makes it hydrating and helps you feel full.
2. Contains Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds
As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup. That’s lower than even “low-sugar” fruits such as berries (2).
A cup (154 grams) of watermelon has many other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI
Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
Potassium: 5% of the RDI
Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of the RDI
Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.
Here’s an overview of watermelon’s most important antioxidants:
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.
Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.
Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn’t change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon, and is linked to many health benefits.
Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.
3. Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent Cancer
Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects.
Some compounds in watermelon, including cucurbitacin E and lycopene, have been studied for their potential to prevent cancer.
4. May Improve Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide
Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.
Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.
Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium and potassium.
5. May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.
Watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage, since it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C
In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared with the control group, they developed lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and less oxidative stress .
6. May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness
Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness.
Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to enhance the bio-availability of citrulline.
One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own
7. Is Good for Skin and Hair
Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.
Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.
Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.
8. Can Help Improve Digestion
Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.
Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently.