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Top 9 Health Benefits of Eating Watermelon

Source: Health Line
Photo(s) Source: Health Line

Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that’s also good for you.

It contains only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds.

Here are the top 9 health benefits of eating watermelon.

1. Helps You Hydrate

Source: Health Line
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Drinking water is an important way to keep your body hydrated.

However, eating foods that have a high water content can also help. Interestingly, watermelon is 92% water (1Trusted Source).

What’s more, a high water content is one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables help you feel full.

The combination of water and fiber means you’re eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.

SUMMARY Watermelon has a high water content. This makes it hydrating and helps you feel full.

2. Contains Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds

As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup (154 grams). That’s lower than even low-sugar fruits such as berries (2).

One cup (154 grams) of watermelon has many other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C: 21% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of the RDI

Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.

Here’s an overview of watermelon’s most important antioxidants:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn’t change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon and is linked to many health benefits.

Cucurbitacin E

Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.

SUMMARY Watermelon is a low-calorie fruit high in some nutrients, especially carotenoids, vitamin C and cucurbitacin E.

3. Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent Cancer

Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects.

Though lycopene intake is associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, study results are mixed. The strongest link so far seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system (1Trusted Source).

It appears to reduce cancer risk by lowering insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein involved in cell division. High IGF levels are linked to cancer (3Trusted Source).

In addition, cucurbitacin E has been investigated for its ability to inhibit tumor growth (4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Some compounds in watermelon, including cucurbitacin E and lycopene, have been studied for their potential to prevent cancer, though study results are mixed.

4. May Improve Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide (6Trusted Source).

Lifestyle factors, including diet, may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.

Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol (1Trusted Source).

According to studies in obese, postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source).

Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, which lowers blood pressure (9Trusted Source).

Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium and potassium (1Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Watermelon has several heart-healthy components, including lycopene, citrulline and other vitamins and minerals.

5. May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.

Watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage, as it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C (1Trusted Source).

In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared to the control group, they developed lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and less oxidative stress (10Trusted Source).

In an earlier study, humans were given lycopene-rich tomato juice with added vitamin C. Overall, their markers of inflammation went down and antioxidants went up. Watermelon has both lycopene and vitamin C (11Trusted Source).

As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (12).

SUMMARYLycopene and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory antioxidants found in watermelon. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases.

6. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Lycopene is found in several parts of the eye where it helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.

It may also prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults (1Trusted Source).

Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.

For more information on how to keep your eyes healthy, consider reading The 9 Most Important Vitamins for Eye Health.

SUMMARYLycopene may help keep eyes healthy and protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

7. May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness

Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness. It’s also available as a supplement.

Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to enhance the absorption of citrulline.

One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own (13Trusted Source).

The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline. Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it’s consumed as a component of watermelon juice.

Other research has also looked at citrulline’s potential to improve exercise endurance and performance.

So far, citrulline doesn’t seem to improve exercise performance in the amounts studied, but it’s still an area of research interest (14Trusted Source).

SUMMARYWatermelon juice has some potential as a recovery beverage after exercise. Citrulline may be partially responsible for its effect of easing muscle soreness.

8. Is Good for Skin and Hair

Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.

Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.

Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.

Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn (15Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSeveral nutrients in watermelon are good for your hair and skin. Some help keep skin supple while others protect against sunburn.

9. Can Improve Digestion

Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.

Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently.

Eating water-rich and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, can be very helpful for promoting normal bowel movements.

SUMMARYFiber and water are important for healthy digestion. Watermelon contains both.

The Bottom Line

Watermelon is a surprisingly healthy fruit. It has a high water content and also delivers many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C.

These nutrients mean that watermelon isn’t only a tasty low-calorie treat — it’s also very good for your health.

Nothing says summer like watermelon particularity in the south. How can watermelon contribute to your overall health? How can you incorporate it in your diet? What medicinal benefits are particularly helpful to you and your body needs?

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Easy Watermelon Sorbet

LAST MODIFIED: AUGUST 26, 2020
BY TRACY ARIZA, DDS
AUGUST 20, 2020
Source: The Things Well Make

Quickly whip up this easy watermelon sorbet in under 5 minutes. Perfect for summer, this sweet, refreshing treat is actually healthy, paleo, and vegan.

A watermelon sorbet in a white bowl on a plate with some slices of watermelon and half a lime.
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

With the heat of summer come my cravings for something icy and cold. I also crave more fruits and vegetables, smoothies, salads, and yogurt.

Watermelon has always been one of my favorite fruits, and seeing it in season makes me happy. I like to eat it plain, but I also like to incorporate it into my frozen treats.

While watermelon sorbet has always been one of my favorites, this easy watermelon sorbet is even better!

Traditional sorbets

Most watermelon sorbets are made by freezing a watermelon pureé that is sweetened with a simple sugar syrup. While making the sugar syrup is easy enough, it takes some time to make and cool and then incorporate the syrup into your watermelon puree.

Most of the time I follow a relatively low sugar diet, so I’m used to eating desserts with less sugar. I find those traditional sorbets too sweet.

I used to make an unsweetened watermelon pureé and freeze it. During the freezing process, I periodically mixed it up with a fork to keep the texture light.

The problem with making a sorbet that way is that if you forget to periodically break up the ice crystals durting the freezing process, you end up with a solid block of watermelon ice.

Even when done right, it’s not easy to get it from a slushy texture to the more solid texture of a smooth, scoopable sorbet.

After seeing people online whipping up one-ingredient banana “ice cream” (also known these days as “nice cream”) by blending up frozen banana chunks, I wanted to try it out with other fruits.

When I first posted this recipe, in the summer of 2014, making sorbets with other fruits in a food processor wasn’t really “a thing” yet. I was really excited when I gave it a try and ended up with the perfect, smooth, yet scoopable sorbet.

Made in 5-minutes?

The term “5-minute watermelon sorbet” may be a bit misleading because you do need to freeze your chunks of watermelon first before making this sorbet.

Once you have frozen watermelon cubes ready, though, you can quickly mix up a batch of this sorbet in under 5 minutes! (So, I suggest always having some frozen watermelon chunks ready!)

Ingredients

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler! All you really need is two ingredients: watermelon and lime juice. (Lemon juice will also work well!)

If you want a sweeter sorbet, you can also add a sweetener to it. I’ll give you some options below in the section about customizing the recipe. (Some are healthier than others.) 😏

Overhead view of a bowl of frozen watermelon chunks, some limes, and a lime squeezer
Begin with frozen watermelon cubes and some fresh lemon or lime.
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Preparation

Before you begin, you’ll need to prepare the watermelon by cutting it into cubes and freezing it. I used 1/4 of a small watermelon. The piece weighed just over 1kg and the watermelon cubes, once removed from the rind, weighed just over 600g.

While you could just throw the bowl of watermelon into the freezer, they may freeze into a block that is difficult to separate. To avoid that, either separate the chunks periodically throughout the freezing process or freeze them in a single layer on a tray.

Overhead view of a quarter of a watermelon on a kitchen scale. It measures 1085 grams.
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Once your watermelon is frozen, the rest is quick and easy!

Add the watermelon chunks to the bowl of a food processor, and add a little bit of lime juice. I normally start out with the juice from half of a lime.

Begin to process the watermelon with the lime, checkin on the texture as you go.

Blending the frozen watermelon in a food processor
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Getting the right texture

To get the texture right, I find it’s best to add the liquid, little by little. My food processor has the ability to blend watermelon chunks pretty smoothly even without adding any liquid. That said, the addition of a liquid helps move the process along more smoothly and can help improve the final texture of the sorbet.

If the mixture is dry, add some more lime juice and continue to process it. The lime juice will also add a mild acidity that balances the sweetness of the watermelon. So, periodically tasting the sorbet as you make it will help you determine if you want to add more juice at any given point.

Blender vs. Food Processor

While this may be possible to make with a powerful blender, making this sort of sorbet is generally easier with a food processor. Food processors have a wider container, making the process much simpler.

I have a food processor. It looks like a wide blender, but it’s actually a great multipurpose food processor. They are very popular here in Europe. Any decent food processor should work well, though. Some powerful blenders, especially those with wider containers, may also work.

If your only choice is a blender, you may need to add more liquid to get the mixture to fall down to the blades. Keep in mind that adding too much liquid will result in more of a slushy texture.

Customizing the recipe

While I prefer the fresh flavor of using only watermelon and lime juice, some people have complained that this recipe isn’t sweet enough for them.

The sweetness, of course, will depend on the sweetness of the watermelon used. Don’t expect to use a not-so-great watermelon and end up with a perfect sorbet.

Adding a sweetener

That said, you can add some sweetener if you are looking for a sweeter dessert (or have used a not-so-sweet watermelon). You can add just about any sweetener that you enjoy or feel comfortable using. Maple syrup and stevia work well in these sorts of desserts.

If using a crystalized sweetener (like granulated sugar), it’s best to first either dissolve it in the lime juice or make a syrup with it. Using a simple sugar syrup makes a more traditional type watermelon sorbet.

Sweetening with a simple sugar syrup

A sugar syrup can be made from equal parts of sugar and water. (You can measure by weight or volume. It doesn’t have to be precise.)

Cook them in a small saucepan and stir them together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then, remove from the heat and cool thoroughly.

Drizzle the cooled syrup in with the lime juice while blending the watermelon chunks.

More like ice cream

If you prefer a creamier watermelon treat, try exchanging the lime juice for a bit of coconut milk (or even fresh cream if dairy isn’t an issue for you). The result is more of a watermelon ice cream! This sorbet used to be my favorite, until I tried that one!

Overhead view of a small bowl of watermelon sorbet with a couple of slices of watermelon and a lime slice.
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
A watermelon sorbet in a white bowl on a plate with some slices of watermelon and half a lime.
Source: The Things Well Make
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

5 Minute, Easy Watermelon Sorbet

Quickly whip up this easy watermelon sorbet in under 5 minutes. Perfect for summer, this sweet, refreshing treat is actually healthy, paleo, and vegan. 4.37 from 46 votes Print Pin RatePrep Time: 5 minutesCook Time: 2 hoursFreezing time: 2 hoursTotal Time: 2 hours 5 minutes Servings: 4 half cup servings Calories: 25kcal Author: Tracy Ariza, DDS

INGREDIENTS

  • ▢2 cups watermelon Cubed
  • ▢1/2 lime Juiced

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Dice your watermelon, and place the pieces in the freezer overnight. After several hours in the freezer, you can proceed, but if the watermelon isn’t completely frozen, the sorbet will have more of a slushy texture rather than be a solid sorbet.
  • Place your diced, frozen watermelon into the food processor and add some lime juice. I used 2-3 cups of watermelon for each half lime, but it’s a good idea to just add a little at the beginning and add more, to taste, later on. Don’t add too much liquid at the beginning or it will tend to fly out of your food processor. (Don’t ask me how I know that!) Start with just a few drops, and slowly add in more as you process your sorbet.
  • Continue to process your watermelon and lime juice in your food processor until you get a sorbet-like texture. You can add a little more lime juice as needed for taste and texture.
  • If you want a sweeter sorbet, you can add in a little honey or another sweetener of your choice. I usually just leave it plain as I prefer it without. I have tried adding honey, and it works OK, but there were a few places where the honey froze up into small drops within the sorbet. It didn’t really bother me, but it’s something to consider before adding it because it does change the texture somewhat. Adding liquid stevia extract doesn’t usually change the texture, but I don’t like the flavor as much.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

If you’d prefer to sweeten this with a simple sugar syrup, as is usually done, you can make one by dissolving equal parts of sugar and water and cooking them for a few minutes over low to medium heat. Once cool, you can add the syrup to the food processor with your watermelon chunks.For a creamier “ice cream” try using coconut milk or cream instead of the lime juice.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 432IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

Update information

This post was originally published on July 4, 2014. It was rewritten, adding new photos and video, in August 2020.

What other ways do you like to enjoy watermelon? What are your favorite sweets? What do you typically order from Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook? Are you a member of the cookie club?

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