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What Are the Health Benefits of Watermelon?
If you plan on having a picnic this summer season then a watermelon is an ideal refreshing snack to pack. But did you know that watermelon is actually very healthy for you? Also referred to as Citrullus Ianatus, the watermelon belongs in the same category as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
Watermelons originated in the northeast part of Africa, and specifically in the Kalahari Desert, around 5,000 years ago. As long as 4,000 years ago watermelons were found to be used in Egyptian tombs, and 2,000 years ago they started appearing in Mediterranean lands. There are over 1,200 different types of watermelon grown all over the world, and 200 to 300 of these types are grown in the United States and Mexico.
Watermelon Helps Repair Sore Muscles
According to a study conducted by the American Chemical Society, drinking watermelon juice before a workout can reduce the heart rate of an athlete and will also reduce muscle soreness the day after the workout. Watermelons are rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that is converted into L-arginine, which relaxes blood vessels and improves the body’s circulation. One study was conducted where 17 ounces of watermelon juice was consumed 1 hour before a workout, which generated positive results. Another study where 780 to 1,560 grams of water were consumed per day for 3 weeks resulted in a 12% increase in plasma levels.
Watermelon Improves Heart Health
Not only is heart rate reduced with watermelon consumption, but also blood pressure. Arturo Figueroa, a physiologist from Florida State University, conducted a study along with colleagues that saw 12 postmenopausal women have their cardiovascular health improved after they spent 6 weeks of taking commercially available supplements of watermelon extract. Regularly consuming watermelon along with general use of an essential oil like gardenia would knock out any menopausal imbalances.
Exposure of L-cirtulline and L-arginine for a 6 week period can result in a decrease in aortic diastolic blood pressure. The nutrients in watermelon also reduce arterial stiffness. Figueroa also conducted a separate study in 2012 which proved that watermelon also reduces ankle blood pressure, especially in middle-aged adults with pre-hypertension and Stage 1 hypertension.
Watermelon Has Anti-Cholesterol Properties
Lycopene gives watermelon its red pigment, and is one out of 100 carotenoids found in both fruits and vegetables. Going under the hypothesis that watermelon would increase antioxidant capacity, a study showed that watermelon consumption led to lower cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Curbitacin E, which is found in watermelon, is a tripterpenoid that shuts down infection-causing enzymes like cyclooxygenase.
Hydration: An Excellent Health Benefit of Watermelons
Watermelon contains 92% water, has very low sodium levels and only has 40 calories per cup of juice. The electrolytes that you consume with watermelon allow you to stay hydrated, helping you to combat heat stroke. One good trick would be to have a water pitcher filled with watermelon cubes. Watermelon contains rehydration salts such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Watermelon is a Great Detox Tool
Watermelons allow the body to detox and eliminate excess water and fluids, as well as alleviating bloating and swelling. Regular consumption of watermelon is actually a natural cure for diarrhea. Potassium and magnesium in particular are key components for proper detoxification. Watermelon is an alkaline food, and an alkaline environment provides a number of benefits to the body. The glutathione content found in watermelon (6.6% RDA) also enables better liver function. Combining watermelon seeds and carrot seeds as part of a detox smoothie could help add a real boost to your detox efforts.
Watermelon is Useful for Dieting Purposes
In the Caloric Ratio Pyramid watermelon contains 89% carbohydrates (11.6 grams), 4% fats (0.2 grams), and 7% protein (0.9 grams). Watermelon is solid in dietary fiber as it contains 0.6 grams. Watermelon is also very rich in multiple vitamins such as Vitamin A (18%), Vitamin C (21%), Thiamin (3%), and Pantothenic Acid (3%). A study found that going on a diet involving watermelon consumption resulted in proper modifying of lifestyle for those suffering from laryngeal carcinogenesis and laryngeal cancer.
Watermelon Improves the Digestive System
Watermelon seeds have nutritional value too. Along with magnesium, calcium and potassium, watermelon seeds also contain phosphorous, iron and zinc. The latter two minerals are critical in purifying the body via the digestive system. There is 1 gram of protein found in every 24 watermelon seeds, which can actually improve the protein quality of other foods, allowing the product to reach its desirable physical, nutritional, textural and sensory properties.
Watermelon can Benefit your Hair
Another positive feature of L-arginine is that this amino acid promotes hair growth. Watermelon consumption allows blood circulation to better flow throughout the body, including the scalp. Consuming watermelon also prevents hair loss and thinning. The iron that watermelon contains is mainly non-hemo iron, which is very helpful for red blood cells. Through these cells oxygen is sent to hair follicles. Watermelon seed oil is a very light oil that is often used to moisturize the hair. Many shampoo brands feature watermelon as an ingredient for this reason.
Watermelon Promotes Bone Health
Another unique advantage in consuming watermelon is that the lycopene in it suppresses bone resorption. Watermelon consumption helps reduce the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, which are pathogens that develop into either pathogenesis or osteoporosis.