Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.
Watermelon, which is known to the science community as Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the gourd family and is closely related to cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe. Watermelon is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate fruit that is packed with many nutrients. While all of the nutrients in a serving of watermelon have some benefit or other, lycopene is the shining star in this fruit. Lycopene, as you’ll see herein, is responsible for many of the incredible benefits of incorporating watermelon into your diet. Best of all, watermelon, though most will argue is best eaten fresh, is versatile in that it can be grilled, juiced, turned into a cocktail, added to salads, and incorporated into smoothies. Let’s dive into all the many ways eating watermelon can benefit your health.
Important Note: Each of the claims made herein, represents research-supported, evidence-based health benefits associated with watermelon at the time of this publication. Be sure to review the most up-to-date research beyond this publication date.
It’s no big secret that one of the main health benefits of eating watermelon is how hydrating it is. In fact, watermelon consists of more than 90% water! Besides the water composition, watermelon also contains minerals essential to hydration; rehydration salts such as calcium, potassium, and sodium are other reasons why this sweet and tasty fruit can help to improve hydration. Not only is watermelon in season during the summer months, but it’s also one of the best seasons to enjoy this fresh fruit. By choosing watermelon as a snack, you not only satiate your sweet tooth but you ensure hydration which is more of a concern during summer than any other season. Best of all, watermelon is versatile and can be enjoyed fresh, juiced, and frozen for all the same hydrating benefits.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no denying that watermelon is packed with hydrating minerals as well as being composed predominantly of water.
Undoubtedly, watermelon is a highly nutritious fruit. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other important nutrients, watermelon is a low-calorie snack perfect for amping up your vitamin intake. With only 46 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving, watermelon is a great sweet substitute if you are eating towards weight loss. Better yet, watermelon has zero fat and cholesterol making it a heart-healthy fruit. Furthermore, watermelon is packed with vitamins A, C, and B6 as well as high levels of potassium and sodium. Finally, watermelon is fraught with carotenoids, antioxidants, and lycopene, each of which has its own important health benefits as you’ll see noted below.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Again, there’s no denying the nutritional makeup of watermelon; it’s a highly nutritious fruit worth adding to your diet.
Good For Skin and Eye Health
Some studies suggest that watermelon is good for your eye and skin health. Watermelon has lycopene which is a carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene has antioxidative properties that ward off harmful lights and environmental toxins. Your eyes and skin can be negatively affected, exposed to cancers, and at risk for oxidative stress and damage because of those lights and toxins. Enter lycopene. Lycopene, can protect your eyes from oxidative stress, disease, macular degeneration, and cancers. Furthermore, lycopene protects against collagen damage, skin discoloration, texture issues, and wrinkles. Notably, one serving of watermelon contains approximately 13 milligrams of lycopene; the daily recommended serving of lycopene per day ranges from 8 to 21 milligrams making a serving of watermelon singularly responsible for one’s daily lycopene requirements.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Decades’ worth of research touts the benefits of lycopene to eye and skin health. As a hearty carrier of lycopene, it’s not a surprise that watermelon is beneficial to protecting one’s eyes and skin.
Lowers Risks of Some Cancer Types
Though there’s not a ton of research on this topic, some studies suggest a connection between some of the nutrients in watermelon and their cancer-fighting abilities. As previously noted, watermelon is rife with antioxidants which are connected to a decreased risk of acquiring cancer. Moreover, the lycopene content in watermelon is attributed by some, namely the National Cancer Institute, as possibly reducing the risk of prostate cancer. In some cases, oxidative stress to biological tissues can lead to a cancer diagnosis; lycopene and carotenoids in watermelon may be useful in preventing some cancers.
General Consensus: 3.5/5 and here is why. Although there aren’t many studies on this topic, those that do connect watermelon to reducing cancer risk all note the lycopene as the nutrient responsible for the reduced risk. It seems more research is warranted on this topic.
Attributed to Improved Heart Health
Another important facet of a watermelon’s nutrient composition is that it’s packed with amino acids. Of note, watermelon contains citrulline, an amino acid linked to lowering blood pressure. Lycopene is another important nutrient to heart health; some studies indicate that lycopene may reduce one’s risk of having a heart attack. By substituting fresh watermelon for junky snacks containing refined sugar, you can better manage weight and inadvertently reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. One study showed that mice who consumed watermelon juice had a reduced risk of weight gain and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. For now, the connection between regular watermelon consumption and heart health is loose; although it’s easy to see how some of the leaps from eating watermelon to improving heart health can be made, there just aren’t conclusive studies in human biology as of yet. Be on the lookout though.
Many studies have drawn the same conclusion that daily consumption of watermelon can have anti-inflammatory effects. Specifically, the nutrients in watermelon help to improve your inflammatory index over time which will have positive health benefits and reduce risk factors for other illnesses over time. The lycopene in watermelon can reduce inflammation and is said to reduce the risk of cancer. Moreover, lycopene works in conjunction with watermelon’s vitamin C content to dissipate inflammation which may also lower occurrences of asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. Unfortunately, there are only about two dozen studies supporting the claim that watermelon has anti-inflammatory properties. More research is warranted.
Enhances Exercise Recovery
Watermelon, as noted above, is fraught with water. Fueling up on watermelon both before and after a workout can improve your energy levels as well as aid in muscle recovery. In addition to the water content, watermelon has a healthy dose of potassium per serving; potassium is an electrolyte that aids in fluid management following sweat loss. One study showed that athletes experienced reduced muscle soreness when they consumed two cups of watermelon before a workout. The reduction in muscle soreness is attributed to the amino acid and citrulline content in watermelon. In a similar study, watermelon juice was attributed to a lower recovering heart rate following a workout.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. While only a few dozen studies prove the positive effect that watermelon has on exercise recovery, they all come to the same conclusion: the electrolytes and water in watermelon are beneficial to exercise recovery.
Water and fiber, both contained in watermelon, are integral to healthy digestion. If eaten in hefty amounts, watermelon can purportedly aid in digestion. While watermelon has plenty of water to move things along, it only has trace amounts of dietary fiber, just over one gram per serving. As a result, it’s not likely that watermelon’s fiber content is going to do much for your digestion; you’d have to eat a ton to reap the benefits of fiber in watermelon. Some studies even indicate a negative digestive impact from watermelon. In fact, some studies show that when eaten in high quantities, watermelon can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea; these issues can be caused by watermelon’s high level of short-chain carbohydrates that lead to abdominal issues.
General Consensus: 1/5 and here is why. Unfortunately, there is just as much research disputing the claim that watermelon aids in digestion as there is research supporting it.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Lowers Risk of Sunburn
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While lycopene is related to averting the occurrence of sunburn, there’s not enough lycopene in a single serving of watermelon to do so.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While some research suggests that the vitamin C in watermelon is associated with reducing instances of asthma, other research suggests watermelon can induce asthmatic symptoms.