Watermelon is surprisingly good for you and recent research is showing that eating this sweet tasting melon, and particularly drinking it as fresh juice, can have some significant health benefits.
Here’s 6 good reasons to eat more watermelon, or better still, make up watermelon juice with a simple instructions ahead.
1. Lycopene for Your Heart, Skin and Cancer Prevention
Lycopene is responsible for the beautiful red color of watermelon pulp. It is a powerful antioxidant, known to protect your cardiovascular system from free radical damage and studies have shown people who eat a lot of lycopene rich foods have a lower instance of heart disease.
Lycopene benefits also include protecting your skin from UV damage that can lead to photo aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. A big glass of watermelon juice before heading to the beach could provide a little extra antioxidant protection against ultraviolet light on your skin.
Research has even found a lower incidence of many other cancers with a higher intake of lycopene rich foods in the diet. This large meta-study of the protective effects of lycopene against cancer found evidence for a reduction of colon, stomach, prostate, pancreatic and lung cancer with higher lycopene intake from foods.
The simple takeaway is, if you’d like to help protect your heart, skin and body from cancer, then have more healthy lycopene foods like watermelon. Tomatoes are another great source, with guava and pink grapefruit also containing good levels of the antioxidant.
2. Citrulline for Better Blood Flow
The amino acid citrulline is found in particularly high amounts in watermelon juice. Citrulline can be converted in your body into arginine, an essential amino acid for improving blood flow and relaxing blood vessels.
This positive effect on your cardiovascular system can have some interesting health benefits, from relaxation when stressed, to more energy with better blood flow and reducing muscle soreness after exercise.
There has even been suggestions that the health benefits of watermelon juice could include a natural ‘Viagra’ like effect in the bedroom. For someone lacking in arginine in the diet, the high citrulline content of watermelon may just save them the prescription.
3. Weight Loss Benefits
The same amino acid citrulline that watermelon juice is so rich in, has also been shown in animal studies (due to its conversion to arginine) to interfere with the accumulation of fat in fat cells. It does this by blocking the effects of an enzyme called TNAP involved in fat storage.
Animal studies are hardly conclusive, but drinking a glass of watermelon juice before a meal is great for hydration, high in nutrition and very low in calories – all helpful for losing weight.
4. Anti-inflammatory Watermelon Juice
Eating watermelon or drinking the juice before heavy exercise can have an anti-inflammatory effect, according to this research. Watermelon is rich in flavonoids, carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene and other compounds that fight inflammation called triterpenoids.
All of these beneficial health nutrients increase the more you allow a watermelon to ripen. So once you buy them, make sure you let your melons ripen for a while and turn fully red before you eat or juice them.
5. Vitamins and Minerals
While perhaps not as impressive as its antioxidant carotenoids or unusual amino acid content, watermelons still contains useful levels of vitamins and minerals.
In the vitamins, watermelon is particularly high in vitamin C, as well as having more than enough beta-carotene that could be converted into vitamin A in your body if needed. There are also smaller amounts of B vitamins.
Potassium and magnesium are well represented in watermelon’s minerals, and particularly if you juice or blend it, the seeds contain good levels of iron and zinc.
6. Watermelon Juice for Kidney Health
Watermelon juice is great for your kidneys, having a highly cleansing effect when you drink it. It helps to flush out ammonia and uric acid and has even been known to help with kidney stones.
Watermelon seeds can have an even more pronounced effect on your kidneys, so it’s recommended to buy your watermelons with the seeds if you’re using the juice for kidney cleansing.
How to Make Watermelon Juice
Cut off a portion of the watermelon to juice, perhaps a quarter of a large one would be enough for 2 people. Sizes vary greatly though so go with your own judgment, remembering watermelon is over 90% water.
Chop up the watermelon, including the greenish rind, into strips just thin enough to fit into your juicer feed. The rind is full of many of the beneficial nutrients detailed above so well worth including in juicing. With the sweetness of the red center you won’t taste it in your watermelon juice.