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Some people avoid watermelon because they say it has high levels of sugar. However, according to recent research, the sweet red-fleshed fruit appears to be associated with a wide range of benefits.
Watermelons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber.
A fully-ripened watermelon is typically 6 percent sugar and 91 percent water by weight, so it is not surprising why a number of people may wonder about its potential health benefits - apart from being a sweet thirst quencher of course.
Over recent years there have been a number of studies carried out to try and determine whether watermelon might have health benefits, and there have been some very promising results.
This information page includes a nutritional breakdown of the watermelon, tips on how to store the fruit, and sections describing the fruit's therapeutic properties, including its ability to improve male potency, prevent cardiovascular disease, and relieve muscle soreness.
Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said:
"Watermelons are a great fruit to help you hydrate and cool down in the summer heat. Also, since it's mostly made up of water, pureed watermelon makes a refreshing drink."
Despite being mainly water and sugar, watermelons are actually a very good source of vitamin C, (which provides protection against immune system deficiencies) and vitamin A (which promotes good eyesight).
The red flesh of a watermelon is also a significant source of phytochemicals, in particular one known as lycopene. Lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes, is a nutrient with proven cancer-protection qualities.1
Researchers at Florida State University found that watermelon is effective at preventing prehypertension (which can lead to cardiovascular disease). The study included nine participants who all benefited from the amino acid L-citrulline/L-arginine from watermelon extract - their aortic blood pressure lowered.
The lead author of the study, Professor Arturo Figueroa, said: "Watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide essential to the regulation of vascular tone and healthy blood pressure."
Eating watermelon could be an effective means of alleviating the pain associated with muscle soreness.A study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, revealed that eating watermelon can help treat post-exercise muscle soreness because of its high levels of L-citrulline.
A study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M found that phytonutrients in watermelon can relax blood vessels in the same way Viagra does. "Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, having the same basic effect as Viagra, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it," according to Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station.
The authors of the study said: "We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important healthful benefits grows longer with each study."
It might be better to store your watermelons outside the fridge. A group of researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that watermelons are a lot more nutritious when they are stored at room temperature as opposed to being refrigerated.
The study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, revealed that watermelons stored at room temperature contain double the levels of beta carotene (an antioxidant and source of vitamin A) and 20 percent more lypocene, compared to watermelons stored in a fridge - this applies only to the uncut fruit.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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