11 Health Benefits Of Watermelon 2023: Risks & Nutrition Facts

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Reviewed by Brittany, F., PhD

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benefits of watermelon

Many people around the world love watermelon. As it turns out, watermelon can be an incredibly healthy food when eaten in the right amounts: including for heart health, blood sugars, hydration, skin health, and more.

If you want to learn all about the many health benefits of watermelon and how it could be good for your health and wellness, read on to find out more.

Nutrition Facts About Watermelon

Watermelon is a nutrient-rich food. It is high[1] in carotenoid antioxidants like lycopene, plus vitamin C and vitamin A, which are also both antioxidants that fight free radicals and inflammation.

Watermelon also contains potassium, magnesium, insoluble fiber, and healthy amino acids L-arginine and citrulline. However, it does contain sugar (in the form of fructose) which can be unhealthy if eaten in excess.

Health Benefits Of Watermelon

The Top 9 Health Benefits of Watermelon 2023

Keeps Your Heart Healthy

The antioxidants L-arginine and citrulline (also called L-citrulline) have been studied[2] for their effects on heart health. In trials, they were shown to help naturally lower blood pressure in people when taken as a supplement to the diet.

Lowering blood pressure can be good for cardiovascular health. As such, including watermelon in your diet can support your doctor’s recommendations for improving heart health.

Keeps You Hydrated

True to its name, watermelon is a fruit that contains a lot of water. It also contains all the right nutrients to provide electrolytes to the body for quenching thirst: natural acids (like malic acid and citric acid), sugars, and sodium.

Eating watermelon on a hot day or after exercise could help replenish your thirst. It will also help restore electrolytes your body needs after a good workout or sweating profusely.

Helps In Blood Sugar Management

While watermelon is high in sugar, studies suggest[3] other compounds in watermelon—like citrulline—could benefit blood sugar levels.

Doing this can be good for health in multiple ways, including supporting the health of type 2 diabetic patients. That said, the best way for people with diabetes to experience benefits may be to consume a low-sugar (or sugar-free) watermelon-sourced supplement of citrulline.

Aids In Weight Loss

The fact watermelon supports a healthier heart and blood sugar means it can have some benefits for natural weight loss, too. Both of these improve metabolism in the body, which can then speed natural weight loss—though watermelon is no “magic bullet” weight loss food.

Studies also showed[4] that regular watermelon consumption (supplementation) helped reduce appetite and body weight in test subjects.

Helps To Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

We already know watermelon is great for heart health, according to research[5]. This also means watermelon can help all cardiovascular health—which is not just limited to heart health, but also the health of all blood vessels.

Eating watermelon regularly could also help reduce your risk of diseases like stroke, atherosclerosis, brain aneurysm, and more.

Fights Inflammation

Like many fruits and vegetables, watermelon is a potent inflammation fighter when eaten on the regular (in healthy amounts). This is thanks to its antioxidant contents: naturally occurring compounds known to help keep chronic inflammation at bay in the body while fighting many diseases and signs of aging.

Studies show[6] that one of watermelon’s main antioxidants, lycopene, has especially strong anti-inflammatory activity.

Good For Nerve Function

Research is beginning to delve into how watermelon can be good for the nervous system: including our brains, nerves, and the way they all work together to help with memory and cognition.

Watermelon is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that could all nourish and protect our nervous systems. One animal study[7] showed that consumption of watermelon had an effect on the nerves and helped test subjects with better memory.

Supports Fresh, Glowing Skin

In more ways than one, watermelon—as a skin product ingredient applied topically and a nutritious food—could be a blessing for skin health. This may have to do with the antioxidants and vitamins it contains known to be good for skin: such as vitamin A and vitamin C (the latter of which promotes collagen production).

One study[8] also showed that juiced watermelon helped improve blood sugars, appetite, and skin health all in one among many human test subjects.

May Have Anticancer Effects

Watermelon may be a food that reduces your cancer risk. Eating more of it, along with many other types of healthy fruits and vegetables, gives your body more fiber and antioxidants that can cut down your chances—though it’s not a foolproof way to prevent cancer, nor can watermelon be called a cancer treatment.

All the same, some research showed[9] that the antioxidant lycopene from watermelon encouraged cellular death of cancer and slowed its growth.

Aids Digestion

Because watermelon is a rich source of fiber, the fruit may be good digestion-boosting food, especially watermelon rind. Fiber is a macronutrient that helps regulate the gastrointestinal system while also feeding the microbiome (beneficial microbes in our digestive systems).

Watermelon is also a significant source of pectin. Research supports[10] that the fiber and pectin both found in the fruit can aid digestion, bowel regularity, and even help lower cholesterol.

Prevents Heat Strokes

One of the benefits of watermelon—owing to its thirst-quenching and electrolyte-replenishing qualities—is that it could keep the body hydrated during times of extreme heat. This could make it a great food for preventing heat stroke.

Many health and wellness sources online recommend the food for beating the summer heat, along with many other similar fruits. Some even claim it encourages perspiration and sweat to cool you down—though if you do experience signs of heat stroke or heat stress, seek medical help and don’t solely rely on watermelon to do the trick.

Risks

Watermelon is widely consumed around the world. The benefits of watermelon make it a worthwhile food to include in your diet and it is safe to eat in normal amounts.

However, eating too much every day can be bad for you: its sugar levels are not good for your health. Because of its sugar, eating a lot of it may be dangerous for people with diabetes.

Some people may also have an allergy to watermelon. If you experience symptoms like hives, digestive distress, bloating, and more, it’s probably best you avoid eating it—or eat less of it, as these can be signs of eating way too much than what is normal.

Tips For Buying And Eating

It’s not hard to pick out a good watermelon for occasional healthy eating. It adds to your arsenal of fruit servings you should eat every day to be healthy.

Choose watermelons that are grown naturally, from non-GMO seed, and cultivated without the use of pesticides and herbicides for the healthiest fruit possible. Learn how to test for watermelon ripeness[11] when choosing your fruit. You may also find that certain varieties, like the Sugar Baby and heirloom varieties, are lower in sugar and are higher in other healthier nutrient content.

Conclusion

Watermelon is good for you in so many ways. The benefits of watermelon outweigh any risks as it is a typical fruit consumed around the world—though people with diabetes, allergies, or those tempted to overeat the fruit regularly may want to be careful.

But the science is sound: watermelon has many benefits for health including improved heart health, digestive health, reduced risk of disease, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it healthy to eat watermelon every day?

Yes, within reason: like eating a slice or two of watermelon per day. However, eating lots of watermelon (or a whole watermelon) every day, or not eating anything else besides watermelon, is not good for you.

Will I lose weight eating watermelon?

Watermelon, when eaten in healthy amounts, can contribute to a good diet full of other healthy foods that could help you lose weight. However, watermelon is not a “magic bullet” food that will make you shed those pounds.

What is the best way to eat watermelon for health?

Eating fresh raw slices of freshly grown or purchased watermelon is the best way to experience its health benefits. It is also good for you juiced, added to a smoothie, or taken as a supplement (where watermelon is a whole food ingredient).

If I have diabetes, is watermelon good for me?

Small amounts of watermelon eaten in moderation is good for diabetics. To be sure that the sugar in the fruit won’t cause a blood sugar spike be sure to eat it along with other foods, especially high fiber ones.

What is the best type of watermelon to eat for health?

All watermelons are good for your health to some degree. If you can find low-sugar varieties, these are even better for you.

Is watermelon rind or flesh better for health?

Both are good for your health, but because watermelon rind is lower in sugar it may be even better for you. Try incorporating watermelon rind in juices or smoothies instead of the fruit—the flavor is still pleasant, and the rind is even higher in fiber than the flesh.

+ 11 sources

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  1. Aderiye BI, David OM, Fagbohun ED, Faleye J and Olajide OM (2020). Immunomodulatory and phytomedicinal properties of watermelon juice and pulp (Citrullus lanatus Linn): A review. GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, [online] 11(2), pp.153–165. doi:10.30574/gscbps.2020.11.2.0079.
  2. Burton-Freeman, B., Freeman, M., Zhang, X., Sandhu, A. and Edirisinghe, I. (2021). Watermelon and l-Citrulline in Cardio-Metabolic Health: Review of the Evidence 2000–2020. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, [online] 23(12). doi:10.1007/s11883-021-00978-5.
  3. Azizi, S., Mahdavi, R., Vaghef‐Mehrabany, E., Maleki, V., Karamzad, N. and Ebrahimi‐Mameghani, M. (2019). Potential roles of Citrulline and watermelon extract on metabolic and inflammatory variables in diabetes mellitus, current evidence and future directions: A systematic review. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, [online] 47(2), pp.187–198. doi:10.1111/1440-1681.13190.
  4. Lum, T., Connolly, M., Marx, A., Beidler, J., Hooshmand, S., Kern, M., Liu, C. and Hong, M. (2019). Effects of Fresh Watermelon Consumption on the Acute Satiety Response and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults. Nutrients, [online] 11(3), p.595. doi:10.3390/nu11030595.
  5. Burton-Freeman, B., Freeman, M., Zhang, X., Sandhu, A. and Edirisinghe, I. (2021). Watermelon and l-Citrulline in Cardio-Metabolic Health: Review of the Evidence 2000–2020. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, [online] 23(12). doi:10.1007/s11883-021-00978-5.
  6. Kim, C.-H., Park, M.-K., Kim, S.-K. and Cho, Y.-H. (2014). Antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory activity of lycopene in watermelon. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, [online] 49(9), pp.2083–2091. doi:10.1111/ijfs.12517.
  7. Hadjzadeh, M.-A.-R., Jafari Nejad Bajestani, M., Yousefi, M., Hosseini, M., Taghipour, A. and Yousefvand, S. (2020). Effect of Watermelon Extract on Nerve Conduction Velocity, Memory, and T4 Level in Rats. Advanced Biomedical Research, [online] 9(1), p.53. doi:10.4103/abr.abr_264_19.
  8. Quang, C., Rosas Jr, M., Rasmussen, C. and Hong, M.Y. (2020). The Effects of Fresh Watermelon Juice Consumption on Satiety, Postprandial Glucose, Insulin Response, and Topical Application on Skin Health in Healthy Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition, [online] 4(Supplement_2), pp.456–456. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa045_089.
  9. Di Sano, C., Lazzara, V., Durante, M., D’Anna, C., Bonura, A., Dino, P., Uasuf, C.G., Pace, E., Lenucci, M.S. and Bruno, A. (2022). The Protective Anticancer Effect of Natural Lycopene Supercritical CO2 Watermelon Extracts in Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer Cells. Antioxidants, [online] 11(6), p.1150. doi:10.3390/antiox11061150.
  10. Dubey, S., Rajput, H. and Batta, K. (n.d.). Chemical Science Review and Letters Article cs205205361 77 Utilization of Watermelon Rind (Citrullus lanatus) in Various Food Preparations: A Review. Chem Sci Rev Lett, [online] 2022(41), pp.77–82. doi:10.37273/chesci.cs205205361.
  11. Melgares, P. (2020). Thump Test? There’s a better way to pick a ripe watermelon. [online] K-state.edu. Available at: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/stories/2020/07/how-to-pick-a-ripe-melon.html [Accessed 6 Jan. 2023].

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adrian, W., Nutritionist
Herbalist, Wellness Writer, Organic Farmer
Adrian White is a certified herbalist, author, organic farmer, and freelance writer on subjects of health, wellness, nutrition, herbalism, and agriculture. Her book Herbalism: Plants & Potions That Heal was published through Arcturus Publishing in 2022. She is a past contributor to Healthline with bylines in The Guardian, Civil Eats, Good Housekeeping, and Rodale's Organic Life. Adrian is owner of Jupiter Ridge Farm growing diverse vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs.

ABOUT MEDICAL REVIEWER

Brittany, F., PhD
Occupational Therapist, Medical Reviewer
Brittany is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has written over 350 pieces of patient-facing content, published 4 books, created over 30 continuing education courses, and medically reviewed countless pieces of content for accuracy. Her media appearances include being quoted as a health expert in WebMD, Healthline, NBCNews, and Forbes.