Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus ),belong to the family curcurbitaceae (Edward et al).It contains almost 92% water which 6.2% are sugar and 0.4% dietary fiber. It is enriched with lots of Lycopene, carotenoid, vitamin C, citrulline, and cholesterol free, thus consider as low caloric fruit.
It is a rich sources of B-carotene which is an antioxidant substance and a precursor of vitamin A.
The health benefits of watermelon is largely due to the high level of lycopene which scientist have noted, it contains about 15mg to 20mg per two cup serving according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Lycopene is the natural substance belonging to the carotenoid group responsible for the deep red color in many foods like tomatoes, watermelon, red grape fruits, guavas etc. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which helps to prevent various forms of cancer as wells as treatment of various diseases. The deeper the red your watermelon is, the higher the concentration of lycopene.
Watermelon has several benefits for health among which are enumerated below.
Watermelon prevents Cancer
Lycopene a powerful antioxidant found in watermelon could help prevent cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, lycopene was linked to reducing prostate cancer proliferation. Also the Cucurbatacin E found in watermelon helps to prevent the growth of cancerous tumor.
Watermelon prevent Dehydration
Watermelon contains 92% of water, this means that eating watermelon refreshes the body by keeping it full and stay hydrated. Watermelons are rich in electrolytes (sodium and potassium), when watermelon is taken it nourishes your body by replacing the electrolytes lost through sweat, and also hydrating the cells thus maintaining the water balance within the cells. The impaction of this increased cellular functions boost the body metabolism and nourishes the body.
Watermelon improves Heart condition
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extracts helped reduce hypertension and lower blood pressure in obese adults
The citrulline found in watermelon, react with the body’s enzymes and is changed in to arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and circulatory system. The arginine is a precursor for nitric oxide, which helps maintains arteries and the level of blood circulation in the body.
Watermelon Prevents Macular Degeneration Diseases
Macular degeneration disease is a disease that causes the gradual loss of sight due to blurring or loss of central vision. This is often as a result of a deterioration of the macular, a yellow pigmented structure at the back of the eye that is responsible for our detailed color vision.
Research has shown that a deficiency in lycopene is associated with macular degeneration. Watermelon contains a high concentration of lycopene, one cup of watermelon has about 6.5 mg lycopene, this is more than it is contained in other lycopene rich vegetables like tomato which contain 4 mg. Therefore it is recommended to maintain a diet rich in lycopene and other nutrients to prevent this disease.
Watermelon may reduce oxidative stress
The high concentration of lycopne and vitamin c in watermelon helps to reduce oxidative inflammation damage. Oxidative stress is an etiological factor which occurs as result of an inflammation that causes several chronic diseases.
Free radicals are linked with various disease pathogenesis as diabetes, cardiovascular complication, osteoporosis, cancer and cataracts. Lycopene helps restored the antioxidant enzymes which significantly reduce oxidative stress
Watermelon improves male sexual health
Watermelon sometimes called natural viagra helps correct erectile dysfunction among men. The L-arginine in watermelon has been found to help relax blood vessels, especially those supplying blood to the penis. Also citrulline supplement has been found to enhance erectile hardness in men with erectile problem. In addition, research suggest that the lycopene may help in the treatment of infertility among men. Result shows that lycopene can boost sperm count in men.
Watermelon may relieve muscle soreness
The citrulline and amino acid in watermelon helps to reduce muscle soreness. A study shows that men who drank fresh watermelon juice prior to their workouts had reduced muscle soreness 24hrs later compared to those who drank a placebo. Another study shows that some athletes were given a plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery.
Watermelon is good for the skin and hair
Watermelon contains about 22% vitamin C, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to prevent cell damage from free radicals. VitaminC also help the body to produce collagen, a protein that keeps the skin healthy and strong hair. The other very important vitamin in watermelon is vitamin A. vitamin A helps keep skin and hair moisturized. Vitamin A also encourage the growth of new collagen elastinecells. A cup of watermelon contains nearly one-quarter of a daily recommended vitamin A and C.
Watermelon helps to boost the immune system
Watermelon contains a handful amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C decreases in our plasma and leukocytes as we suffer from infections, stress or illness.
Research has also proven that adequate daily intake of vitamin C ameliorates symptoms and shortens the duration of infections, such as the common cold
Watermelon is an additional fruit that provides rich helpings of vitamin C to help strengthen our immune system
Watermelon aid digestion
One of the most common gastrointestinal problems is constipation, which is characterized by a slow gastrointestinal transit, a hard stool, and difficulty in passing stool.
A number of factors can cause constipation, including medication, lack of fiber intake, poor diet, and illness, but the number one cause is usually inadequate fluid consumption.
Because watermelon has both a rich water and fiber content, this juicy fruit easily helps promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Although we emphasize that there is more to watermelon than just water, the water content of this fruit is nonetheless important.
Instead of simply drinking the recommended nine to thirteen glasses of water per day, you can treat yourself to a healthy snack of sliced watermelon while also promoting your digestive health
How to Buy and Store Watermelon
As many different types of watermelon are available, you can also buy it in different ways.
Be sure to choose fruit with the deepest color of flesh and without any white streaking.
If the seeds are visible, make sure they are also deep in color or white.
On the other hand, when purchasing a full watermelon, you can’t really tell what color the flesh or seeds are, so one way to determine if it is ripe and juicy is if it feels heavy for its size.
Heavy watermelon means more water, which means the fruit is riper.
Additionally, knocking on the watermelon can also tell you whether or not the watermelon is satisfactory.
A fully ripened watermelon should have a deep, hollow sound when you knock on it rather than a solid, shallow sound.
Uncut watermelon should be stored in temperatures near 50°F–60°F, which is normally much colder than a normal room temperature in your house.
Keeping the watermelon cold reduces the risk of decay, especially if you are planning to wait several days before slicing it open.
As for sliced watermelon, keep it covered at all times.
It should also be kept in cool temperatures, such as your refrigerator.
Storing cubes of watermelon in a Tupperware container and letting them cool in the refrigerator for about a day allows the fruit to ripen and sweeten.