Nothing like watermelon is capable of recalling images of sunny beaches, free summers, laughs among the waves of the sea. Watermelon is the fruit of summer, native to the African desert Kalahari, nowadays it is grown in tropical regions around the world. Watermelon is excellent to be consumed during the day as a tasty, juicy and refreshing snack. But every slice of watermelon or a sip of its delicious juice is much, much more. In fact, watermelon is a precious source of healthy substances that we are now going to deepen.
Watermelon is made up of 92% water, 7.5% carbohydrates and 0.5% fiber. Watermelon also provides valuable substances for health, such as carotenoids, vitamin C, citrulline, which is an amino acid whose function will be detailed below, lycopene, B vitamins, especially B1, which is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system and for heart and immune health, and B6, which stimulates cognitive function and protects the immune system, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Watermelon also provides phenolic compounds, plus it is cholesterol-free and is a low-calorie fruit (Naz et al, EXCLI J, 2014).
Watermelon for liver and brain health
Watermelon provides valuable antioxidants, such as vitamin C, tocopherol, beta carotene and lycopene. In particular, the strength of watermelon is that the lycopene contained in it is also easily assimilated by the body, unlike tomatoes, where, to make lycopene assimilable, the vegetable must be cooked, even better if in extra virgin olive oil. (Edwards et al, J Nutr, 2003). Thanks to these characteristics, watermelon protects tissues from oxidative stress. Watermelon has been shown to be particularly beneficial for brain and liver health. In particular, the latter is protected from any damage caused by the consumption of drugs (Oyenihi et al, Toxicol Rep, 2016).
Watermelon for the heart and the immune system
Watermelon provides citrulline, which is an amino acid that is then transformed in the body into arginine, another essential amino acid for the body. In fact, arginine takes part in nitric oxide synthesis and plays a role in the functioning of the cardiovascular and immune systems (Collins et al, Nutrition, 2007). Nitric oxide stimulates the relaxation of blood vessels and reduces arteriosclerosis (Manivannan et al, Molecules, 2020). As for our defenses, nitric oxide helps fight pathogens and tumors (Wink et al, J Leukoc Biol, 2011). Not only that, watermelon helps to reduce the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol (Hong et al, Nutr Res, 2015).
Watermelon and diabetes
Watermelon and its juice have shown an interesting antidiabetic action, helping to reduce fasting blood sugar. This effect is attributable to different mechanisms of action of watermelon, such as the ability to counteract inflammation, but also to modulate glucose transporters (Ajiboye et al, J Diabetes Metab Disord, 2020). Not only that, watermelon protects the pancreas, counteracting the death of pancreatic beta cells, responsible for the production of insulin (Oseni et al, Niger Med J, 2015).
Watermelon and overweight
A study compared the action of 300 grams of watermelon, consumed daily for a month, with that of a snack based on low-calorie biscuits. Well, it emerged that watermelon produced a greater sense of satiety, contributed to a greater reduction in body weight, body mass index, systolic blood pressure and waist circumference (Lum et al, Nutrients, 2019).
Watermelon juice, the recipe
Watermelon is delicious to consume alone, its whole pulp so juicy is a great snack or a surprising ingredient for your salads, as you can see in the recipe Fresh watermelon and vegetable salad in the Healthy Food section. Alternatively, for warmer days, you can also make a delicious watermelon juice. Blend the pulp of 500 grams of diced watermelon, filter to remove the seeds. Then add the juice of half a lemon, pour into glasses, add ice cubes and mint leaves.