“What we eat is what we are,” this dictum has never been truer in modern times. Today, there is plenty of evidence that shows our diet can cause severe health problems and at the same time help reverse numerous ailments. Hence, we need to take a step back and get an understanding how the food we eat impacts our body and brain to initiate a habit of conscious eating and conscious living.
We eat our food without knowing what it is and where it comes from. One example is juice. Juice is a staple in most of our diets. But most often than not, we tend to buy packaged juices. These juices are devoid of all nutrients and offer no health benefits to us. On the contrary, fresh juice, made at home, is less expensive, easy, enjoyable, and packed with vitamins and minerals. One of the easiest juices to make at home is Watermelon juice.
July is a national watermelon month as a slice of red and green watermelon perfectly captures summer’s essence and because watermelon harvests are at their peak during this period. Watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the US (followed by cantaloupe and honeydew). Ancient hieroglyphics show that watermelon originated in Egypt around 5000 years ago. Today, there are more than 300 varieties of watermelon grown in the US and Mexico alone.
There are plenty of surprising facts about watermelon. Let’s look at a few of them, especially with regards to their remarkable health benefits. One important thing to keep in mind about melons, including watermelon, is to consume them alone. Do not eat any other food 30 minutes before or after eating melons.
Watermelon contains more antioxidant lycopene than fresh tomatoes; one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene as a raw tomato.
- L-citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, seems to protect against muscle pain.
- Watermelon rind is edible and contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh. Citrulline converts to arginine in your kidneys; Then arginine plays a vital role in heart and immune system health.
- New research showed citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress in obese study participants.
6 Watermelon Facts will surprise you
1.Watermelon Has More Lycopene Than Raw Tomatoes
Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a pink or red color. And watermelon is actually a more concentrated source. Lycopene is often associated with tomatoes. Compared to large fresh tomato, one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene (6 milligrams (mg) in watermelon than 4 mg in a tomato). Lycopene is a carotenoid of great interest due to its antioxidant capacity and its role in reducing coronary heart disease and some types of cancers such as prostate and kidney cancer.
2. Watermelon is also rich in L-Citrulline
L-citrulline is a nonessential amino acid that can be metabolized to L-arginine, an essential amino acid for humans, which produces nitric oxide (NO), improves athletic performance, and relieves muscle soreness. It also has cardioprotective effects, among other properties. Thus, L-citrulline is commercially available in pharmaceutical compounds or, more recently, dietary supplement beverages such as juices.
According to Goldberg, watermelon juice enriched with L-citrulline can be defined as a functional food. Functional food is any food or food ingredient that positively impacts an individual’s health, physical performance, state of mind, and nutritive value. Studies have shown an increase in plasma citrulline and arginine after the consumption of 3.3 kg (fresh weight) of ripe watermelon.
3. Watermelon Juice May Relieve Muscle Soreness
Try out the water lemon juice before your next workout. Use one-third of fresh watermelon. This contains a little over one gram of l-citrulline, an amino acid to protect you from muscle pain. One study found that men who drank natural unpasteurized watermelon juice before their workouts had reduced muscle soreness 24 hours later than those who drank a placebo.
4. Watermelon Is a Fruit and a Vegetable
Remember how watermelon is related to cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash? That’s because it’s part vegetable and part fruit (it’s a sweet, seed-producing plant, after all). The other clue that watermelon is both fruit and vegetable? The rind is entirely edible…
5. You Can Eat Watermelon Rind and Seeds
Most people throw away the watermelon rind but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat. Not only does the rind contain plenty of health-promoting and blood-building chlorophyll, but the rind actually contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh.
Citrulline is converted to arginine in your kidneys. Not only is this amino acid important for heart health and maintaining your immune system, but it has been researched to have potential therapeutic value in over 100 health conditions.
While many people prefer seedless watermelon varieties, black watermelon seeds are edible and actually quite healthy. (In case you were wondering, seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified, as they’re the result of hybridization.) They contain iron, zinc, protein, and fiber.
6. It’s Mostly Water
This might not be surprising, but it’s still a fun fact; watermelon is more than 91 percent water. This means that eating watermelon with you on a hot summer day is a tasty way to help you stay hydrated and avoid dehydration (it’s not a substitute for drinking plenty of freshwaters, however).
7. Some Watermelons Are Yellow
The Yellow Crimson watermelon has yellow flesh with a sweeter honey flavor than the more popular pink-fleshed Crimson Sweet. Yellow watermelon likely offers its own unique nutritional benefits, but most research has focused on the pink-fleshed varieties.
8. The fresh aroma of Watermelon
The aroma of watermelon comes from the enzymatic oxidation of fatty acids when the watermelon is cut. The primary Aroma- impact compounds are C8 and C9 aldehydes.
Lycopene: Watermelon’s Nutritional Claim to Fame
Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, with upwards of 6,500 micrograms (6.5 mg) in less than half a cup (the red-fleshed varieties will contain significantly more lycopene than yellow-fleshed watermelon).
Also noteworthy, the lycopene in watermelon appears to be quite stable, with little deterioration occurring even after it’s been cut and stored in the refrigerator for more than two days. One study took about seven days of storage for the lycopene to deteriorate, and then it was only by about 6 percent to 11 percent.
So what makes lycopene so important? Lycopene’s antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than that of other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. In one study, after controlling for other stroke risk factors, such as older age and diabetes, they found that men with the highest blood levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest.
A 2014 meta-analysis also revealed that lycopene decreased stroke risk (including stroke occurrence or mortality) by more than 19 percent. In addition to lowering your risk of stroke, lycopene has been shown to have potential anti-cancer activity, likely due to its potent antioxidant properties.
A 2014 meta-analysis of 10 studies also showed that dietary lycopene might protect against the risk of ovarian cancer among postmenopausal women. There is also some evidence from animal studies that lycopene may help with cancer treatment as well.
One study found that lycopene treatment reduced the growth of brain tumors, while another showed frequent lycopene intake suppressed breast tumor growth in mice.
Watermelon Extract May Significantly Reduce Blood Pressure
New research also highlights the role of watermelon nutrients on heart attack prevention via a significant reduction in blood pressure. Obese study participants who received citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract significantly improved blood pressure and cardiac stress while resting and undergoing a stressful cold-water test. According to the researchers:
“Watermelon supplementation reduced aortic BP [blood pressure] and myocardial oxygen demand during CPT [cold pressor test] and the magnitude of the cold-induced increase in wave reflection in obese adults with hypertension. Watermelon may provide cardioprotection by attenuating cold-induced aortic hemodynamic responses.”
Remember, in your body, the citrulline in watermelon is converted into L-arginine, a precursor to nitric oxide. Adequate nitric oxide is required to enable your blood vessels to stay relaxed and open for blood flow, which is one reason why it may help lower blood pressure.
Watermelon for Inflammation and More
What else is watermelon good for? It’s rich in anti-inflammatory substances. For instance, watermelon contains the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant lycopene, cucurbitacin E, or triterpenoid, which reduces the activity of the pain inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase – the same enzyme blocked by COX-2 inhibitors, which include most NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. While being very low in calories (about 46 calories in a cup), watermelon also contains an impressive variety of other important nutrients in which many Americans are lacking, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
Cutting into a watermelon and finding out it lacks flavor is disappointing. There’s a trick you can use to pick out a ripe watermelon, either from your favorite Stutzmans Garden Center or your own melon patch. Look for a pale, buttery-yellow spot (not white or green) on the bottom. This is where the watermelon sits on the ground ripening, and it’s one of the best indicators of ripeness you can use (even commercial watermelon pickers use this as a gauge).19 Other tricks for picking a ripe watermelon include:
- It should be heavy for its size.
- Smooth rind with a dull top (the top is the side opposite the ground spot)
- The thump test (this is controversial, but ripe watermelon is said to have a hollow bass sound)
Store your watermelon in a cool area (50-60 degrees F) until it’s cut. Cut watermelon should be refrigerated (and be sure to wipe off your watermelon with a damp cloth before cutting it). Remember, try the rind blended with some lime juice rather than simply tossing it in the trash (choose an organic watermelon, especially if you’ll be eating the rind). One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose (I recommend keeping your total fructose intake below 25 grams of fructose per day if you’re in good health and below 15 grams a day when overweight have issues with high blood pressure or diabetes).