Watermelon is the summer fruit for excellence, its consumption on the hottest days of the year gives relief and refreshment thanks to its refreshing properties. Let’s see what the other benefits are
The watermelon plant, or watermelon, whose scientific name is Citrullus Vulgaris, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Its fruit is very voluminous, has a round and oval shape and can exceed 20 kg in weight.
Watermelon, as we shall see has many properties and is also a good source of vitamin B that is used to produce energy for the body.
- Chemical Composition
- Blood Pressure
- Kidney Stones
- Macular Degeneration
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Skin and Hair
- Insulin Resistance
- Muscle Aches
- How to choose
The plant, an annual herbaceous with a creeping and hairy stem, is very prolific and a single specimen can even produce 100 watermelons.
The first news regarding its cultivation dates back to about 5.000 years ago, precisely in Egypt. Precious hieroglyphics have been found in this country which testify to the veracity of this news.
L ‘ watermelon is a valuable source of antioxidants natural, in particular lycopene, ascorbic acid and citrulline. These ingredients provide protection against chronic health problems such as cancer onset and cardiovascular disease. ( 1, 2 ) Lycopene is a carotenoid which gives the characteristic red color to vegetable foods such as tomato and watermelon.
Thanks to its organoleptic properties, this fruit is used in folk medicine for its healing effects. In traditional Chinese medicine, all parts of the plant are used, including the leaves, peel and seeds. Its parts, used together with others and herbs and boiled to make a tea, provide benefits for urinary tract infections.
In Ayurvedic medicine, however, watermelon is used for its refreshing and aphrodisiac properties, to strengthen the blood and to promote liver health.
|Chemical composition per 100 g of watermelon|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||28|
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, citrulline, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
100 grams of watermelon have a caloric yield of 30 kcal.
Watermelon: Properties and Benefits
In recent times the properties of lycopene and other vegetable compounds present in this fruit have been studied to understand its anticancer effects. Studies suggest that taking lycopene is associated with a lower tumor risk. In particular, it seems that this compound is effective in preventing tumors affecting the digestive system. ( 3 )
A study conducted in Vietnam in 2018 suggests that the consumption of lycopene-rich foods represents a possible protection against prostate cancer in Asia. ( 5 )
A study conducted in Uruguay combined the effect of lycopene, vitamin C, flavonoids and phytosterols has proven effective in the regression of carcinoma of the aerodigestive tract. ( 6 )
In another study it was found that the administration of lycopene in the early stages of colon cancer has the ability to slow down the progression of cancer cells. ( 7 )
It has been reported by Harvard University research that individuals who consume an appreciable dose of lycopene have greater resistance against various lines of prostate cancer. ( 8 )
There is an inverse relationship between the high consumption of lycopene and prostate cancer observed during the studies. Men with a high consumption of lycopene in the diet reported 25% less incidence of prostate cancer and 44% overall reduced risk of other cancers. Likewise, women who consume copious amounts of watermelon have a 5 times lower risk of cervical cancer. ( 9 )
According to studies, lycopene also has the ability to control the autocrine and paracrine systems, a factor that contributes to the development of malignant tumors. ( 10 )
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world. Our lifestyle, including diet, can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.
Studies suggest that lycopene, in addition to lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, can help reduce oxidative damage to cholesterol. ( 11 )
Scientific research has shown that citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon, also has beneficial effects on heart health. This compound in fact increases nitric oxide levels body. Nitric oxide in turn promotes the expansion of blood vessels thus reducing blood pressure. ( 14 )
According to scientific research, food lycopene exerts cardio-protective effects due to its high antioxidant activity. ( 15 )
Adjusts the pressure
A recent study done in the United States claims that watermelon has useful properties in case of hypertension. Its intake balances blood pressure thus avoiding damage to the cardiovascular system. These benefits are attributable to a non-essential amino acid which is called citrulline .
There are several studies showing that citrulline has useful properties and lowers blood pressure. Some studies claim that watermelon juice supplementation, in addition to reducing pressure, improves the elasticity of blood vessels. ( 16, 17 )
Studies have shown that potassium present in fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, is useful for removing toxins from the blood. When too many toxins are present in the blood , they do they deposit in the kidneys making them more vulnerable. In this case an excess of uric acid can form in the blood which can give rise to kidney stones and gout. ( 18 )
Thanks to the content of lycopene and vitamin C, the regular consumption of this summer fruit helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. ( 19 )
One study looked at the effects of vitamin C and lycopene found in tomato juice. The results confirmed that the two compounds have useful properties in reducing the markers of inflammation. ( 20 )
According to a recent animal study, lycopene present in watermelon reduces inflammation and increases the body’s antioxidant capacity. ( 21 )
Thanks to the high water content, watermelon is definitely a thirst-quenching fruit with diuretic and purifying properties of the organism.
Low Calorie Intake
Although its pulp is particularly sweet, watermelon has a particularly low caloric intake and is therefore indicated in slimming diets because of its satiating and non-fattening effect.
The macular degeneration is a typical visual disease of the elderly that can lead to blindness. Studies confirm that the lycopene present in watermelon can prevent and even cure this pathology linked to the eyes. ( 22 )
Studies conducted at the University of London suggest that carotenoids help keep vision health intact. ( 23 )
Recent studies have found that the antioxidant properties of lycopene are effective in reducing asthma exacerbations in children. There are also other studies on lycopene that demonstrate how this compound can have beneficial effects on asthma. ( 24, 25 )
All the potential asthma benefits of this compound, which is also abundant in watermelon, are reported in this 2010 report. ( 26 )
The abundance of water and fiber, on the other hand, is useful for improving blood circulation. It also prevents the formation of fatty deposits in the veins and arteries.
The researchers argue that this ability of the fruit to improve blood circulation can extend its benefits to the sexual sphere and can therefore help to combat erectile dysfunction.
In particular, research claims that citrulline is the compound of these benefits for erectile dysfunction. Once ingested this substance is converted into arginine which is a precursor of nitric oxide, which in turn promotes relaxation of the blood vessels. ( 27 )
An Italian study has shown that oral citrulline supplements improve erection duration in men suffering from this dysfunction. ( 28 )
According to other studies , arginine present in watermelon is effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Its stimulating properties can increase libido and improve people’s sexual life.
Skin and Hair
Thanks to the properties of vitamin A and beta-carotene , watermelon brings benefits to the skin by delaying its aging and keeping it elastic for longer. Vitamin A also contributes to the health of our hair and, together with vitamin C, promotes the production of collagen, a basic substance of the structure of our connective tissues.
This property is supported by several studies that suggest that vitamin C contributes to the construction of collagen, offers protection against ultraviolet rays and cures inflammation of the skin. ( 29 )
As we know, insulin is a very important hormone for the control of blood sugar. Insulin resistance is a condition where the body produces insulin but the cells resist its effects. This malfunction can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2013, says that drinking juice of watermelon before intense physical activity, helps reduce muscle soreness the next day. ( 33 )
The researchers argue that the cause of these benefits is due to citrulline and arginine which improve blood circulation.
A study conducted in rats established that watermelon juice increases the antioxidant state and offers some protection against alcohol-induced oxidative damage in the brain and liver. ( 34 )
How to Choose the Right Watermelon
There are several things you can observe that allow you to choose a ripe fruit at the right point.
- Before buying a watermelon, lift it and check that it is heavy in relation to its size. If necessary, compare it with other watermelons and choose the heaviest one. A heavy fruit is a guarantee of the presence of a lot of water inside and therefore means that the fruit is ripe.
- The watermelons usually exhibit a yellow stain more or less dark in the part in which they are stand in the field. Choose watermelons with the darker spot, if the spot is light or not very visible it means that the watermelon was caught too early.
- The perfect watermelon must be opaque dark green. If the peel is shiny, leave it aside.
The watermelon can be divided into two main varieties: the first, the best known and grown mainly in Italy, called Watermelon Crimson Sweet and is native to America. It is the classic watermelon we are used to, with a spherical and oval shape, dark green skin with light green streaks and a nice bright red flesh.
It is not recommended for those with a rather “lively” intestine, because watermelon seeds have marked laxative properties.
Watermelon contains natural salicylates, substances used in the pharmaceutical field for the preparation of medicines, first of all aspirin. There are people who are allergic or have developed an intolerance to these substances, therefore, in these cases, a doctor’s consultation is mandatory before consuming this type of fruit.
In children under the age of three years the aromatic substances present in the pulp of watermelon may not be easy to digest.
According to the American Cancer Society, consuming more than 30 mg of lycopene per day can cause nausea and diarrhea. Therefore, you should not exceed the consumption of fruit containing this substance.
The fruit also contains short chain carbohydrates called FODMAP which some people can’t digest. These carbohydrates can cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, intestinal cramps, diarrhea and intestinal gas.
The origins of the plant, however, according to the testimony of an explorer named Livingstone, however, seem to be African. The period in which it matures is from June to September. Around the world there are 1.200 varieties.
To maximize the intake of lycopene and beta-carotene it is recommended to consume it when it is well ripe and red.
All parts of this fruit are rich in substances useful for our health, even the internal and white part of the peel. If possible, it is recommended to insert a little watermelon peel in some smoothie as it has a good content of chlorophyll, a substance useful in the production of blood.
The month of July in America, the period in which it reaches the peak of collection of this fruit, is the national month of watermelon.
Some people prefer seedless watermelon but in reality the seeds are edible and have beneficial properties for health. If you think the seedless one is the result of genetic manipulation, you are wrong, it is just a hybrid fruit.
Maybe you didn’t know what
The lycopene present in watermelon appears to be a fairly stable substance. Even after three days that the fruit has been cut and placed in a refrigerator, the lycopene undergoes little deterioration with regard to its properties organoleptic. After 7 days of storage this constituent undergoes a deterioration ranging from 7 % to 11 %.
Watermelon is the richest food source of the amino acid citrulline. According to scientific research, the skin is the part of the fruit that contains the most. ( 35 )
The largest watermelon ever existed weighed 122 kg ! This record was set during a competition in 2005 in Arkansas.
Watermelon contains about 40% of lycopene higher than in tomato.
According to studies, the consumption of watermelon juice increases the plasma concentrations of lycopene and beta-carotene in humans. ( 36 )
Watermelon: Properties and Benefits
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