Watermelon is well known for being aptly named – indeed it is a cooling and hydrating fruit in the heat of summer! Because it contains up to 92% water, it definitely has more moisture than other members of the same melon family such as squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe. But there has been some debate about the sweetness of watermelon and the effects of its sugar content. Does the sugar content make it a poor choice, or does it actually have nutritional benefits? My research has turned up at least a dozen good reasons to dig into watermelon, whenever it is available.
There are 12 nutrients in watermelon that have great health benefits – all terrific reasons to add watermelon to your summer grocery list:
- Lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient that can be beneficial for the cardiovascular system, and the bones. Cancer research has shown that lycopene could be beneficial for helping to prevent prostate cancer.
- Citrulline, an amino acid that is converted to arginine (another amino acid) by the body. Arginine is currently being studied for its positive effects on blood flow and cardiovascular health.
- Flavonoids and antioxidants, including Vitamin C, are found throughout the watermelon. Interestingly, vitamins and antioxidants have been found in the white part of the watermelon as well as the flesh. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body, which helps reduce the risk of damage to our cells through oxidative stress.
- Vitamin A, another antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. It supports other body functions as well, such as general growth, our appetite and taste.
- Copper, which keeps our blood, bones and connective tissues strong, supports the body’s production of hormones and gives us energy.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which helps the body metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates.
- Potassium, which is important to help the body maintain electrolyte balance. It is very important for the body’s nervous system and the muscular system.
- Biotin – helps the body maintain its metabolism, nervous system, cells, skin, and digestive tract.
- Magnesium – plays many important roles in the body including healthy nerve and muscle function, healthy immune system and the building of bones.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is important for the body’s cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems. B6 works to help the body maintain healthy hair, skin and blood cells and it helps with absorption of protein and carbohydrates.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is important for growth and development, for healthy heart and muscle functioning, and it promotes healthy digestion.
- Electrolytes, which help the body to regulate blood pressure, the pH level of the blood, nerve function, muscle function and hydration. Electrolytes can also help prevent heat stroke.
Does ripeness and flesh color affect the nutritional content of watermelon?
Yes, apparently ripeness and flesh color are both factors in nutritional value. Studies have shown that as a watermelon ripens, the lycopene, beta-carotene and phenolic antioxidant content all increase substantially. The color of flesh also seems to make a difference in nutritional content. The red/pink varieties have been found to contain more lycopene and antioxidants than the white/yellow varieties.
What about the sugar content of watermelons?
Even though watermelon is naturally sweet, it does not have a negative impact blood sugar. That means that consuming a normal serving will not cause the unhealthy situation of a blood sugar spike and crash. According to Harvard Health the glycemic load (GL) of a 120 gram serving is 4, which is low (low GL is 0 to 10, medium GL is 11-19, high GL is 20 and above).
All in all, watermelon delivers an impressive nutritional punch, making a great candidate for your list of favorite healthy fruits! Despite its sweetness, it won’t mess with blood sugar levels, which makes it safe for diabetics (unless a huge amount is consumed all at one time).
Are you wondering about the effect of other sweet fruits and natural sugars on the body? Are you interested in harnessing the power of whole foods to reduce weight naturally and easily, with the positive side effect of great energy all day long? Contact me, and let’s chat! Also, check out my book The Sugar Switch™.
Copyright © 2015 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved