Nutrition and Health Benefits from Watermelons

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Nutrition and Health Benefits from Watermelons
by Dan Gerhardt · All Zones · Food Nutrition · 2 Comments · March 15, 2011 · 1,991 views

The Stillness of Watermelons

Watermelons are not exactly what you would call fierce. The thought of trembling and cowering in their presence doesn't particularly come to mind. On the contrary, watermelons appear to be about as predictable and laid back as a nest full of dinosaur eggs - sitting perfectly still, patiently waiting to hatch, where breaking the shell, splitting it in two, and spilling the grainy, dripping, embryonic flesh out onto the hot, parched ground is still just another precognitive dream not yet come true. Laying in wait, underneath the moon-lit sky, watermelons have nothing better to do than capture the rythmical symphony of the frogs and crickets, observe the movement of the stars, and count down the precession of the equinoxes into deep antiquity. Spherical geometry may not be one of their strong suits, but watermelons are more than capable of seriously contemplating, even foretelling, the timing of the summer solstice. More than just your average, oversized camel's turd, watermelons spend their dog days in deep meditatation, soaking up the sun and sucking up the groundwater. Tethered to their earthly mother through umbillical-like vines, and gently waving away dragonflies with their palmy, jutting appendages, watermelons radiate their glowing, charismatic presence through both moon-bathed and sun-drenched light alike. As for their superficial, physical appearance, watermelons are nothing more than cotton-candied cobwebs doused in fire hydrant water, speckled with the flat-ironed, wax-coated, minnow spit-slathered teardrops of an old oak tree, encased in the semi-hardened, mucosa-lined stomach of the jolly green giant. Not exactly what you would call fierce.

 PictureWatermelons in History

Watermelon in field According to Balkan folk legend, some southeastern Europeans actually believed that watermelons could turn into vampires if left out during a full moon, or if kept outside after Christmas. They were so superstitious about this belief that they would plunge suspected melons into a pot of boiling water, scrub the melon with a broom, then burn the broom, apparently solving the problem. Maybe watermelons are more fierce than we imagined.

The first written history of watermelon comes from Egypt, where they were first cultivated, over 5,000 years ago, where the fruit was recorded in hieroglyphics. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of Egyptian Kings in order to nourish them in the afterlife. From Egypt, watermelons spread to other countries around the Mediterranean by way of trading ships. The watermelon trade eventually spread to Europe through the Moors during the 13th century, and crossed the Kalahari desert all the way to China.

Nutritional & Health Benefits From Watermelon

Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds. Studies have shown that deep red varieties of watermelon contain even more lycopene than tomatoes. Even though watermelons are 92% water, the remaining 8 percent is loaded with lycopene, an anti-oxidant that protects the human heart, prostate and skin. Lycopene is also found in red grapefruit, but since it is fat-soluble, lycopene is better absorbed by the body in the presence of certain fats. This is why cooked tomato sauce is good for you; the heat releases the lycopene from inside the tomato and the oil increases it's bioavailability. Watermelon is rich in other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and contains the B vitamins necessary for energy production. Watermelon is also a very good source of vitamin B6, vitamin B1, magnesium, and potassium.

The list of important health benefits grows longer with each study. Scientists researching watermelons now say that watermelon has ingredients that deliver aphrodisiac-like effects to the body, increasing circulation, and possibly even increasing the sex drive. Phytonutrients discovered in watermelon include lycopene, beta carotene and the new kid on the block, citrulline, whose beneficial functions are now being unraveled. Among them is the ability to relax blood vessels, much like prescription sex-enhancers do. Scientists know that when watermelon is consumed, citrulline is converted to arginine through certain enzymatic pathways. Arginine is an amino acid that works wonders on the heart and circulatory system and helps maintain a strong immune system. The citrulline-arginine relationship may even prove to be beneficial for those who suffer from obesity and type 2 diabetes. Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, and has the same basic effect that well-known drugs have on the treatment and prevention of erectile dysfunction. Since extra nitric oxide could help those who need increased blood flow, watermelon could also eventually be shown to help reduce angina, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Arginine also helps to remove ammonia and other toxic compounds from the body through the kidneys. Citrulline, the precursor to arginine, is found in higher concentrations in the rind of watermelons than the fleshy fruit. Since the rind is usually discarded, scientists are working to breed new varieties that contain higher concentrations in the flesh.

Current studies have shown that eating watermelon can help:

  • Kidney Disorders - Water Melon contains a lot of potassium, which helps to cleanse the kidneys and reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood. This reduces the chance of developing kidney stones and gout. The frequent urination associated with the high water content helps to flush the kidneys. The antioxidants present help protect the health of the kidney tissue.
  • High Blood Pressure - The large amount of potassium and magnesium present in water melons are very good in reducing hypertension. The carotenoids present in watermelon preserve the elasticity of the circulatory system and prevent hardening of walls of the arteries and veins.
  • Prevent Heat Stroke - Water melon is effective in reducing your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in the tropical regions eat the fruit daily in the afternoon during the hot summers to protect themselves from heat stroke. In India, you will find the fruit being sold by vendors in almost every street throughout the summer months.
  • Diabetes - Watermelon contains very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage and the vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium assist the normal function of insulin in the body, such as lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in watermelon, is very effective in enhancing the impact of insulin on sugar.
  • Heart Health - Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in water melon, improves cardiac functions. Beta carotene, known for its remarkable antioxidant and anti aging properties, also prevents age-related cardiac problems. The roughage in water melon, with help from vitamin C and potassium, help reduce cholesterol levels and keep your heart safe.
  • Eye Health - The carotenoids and antioxidants present in watermelon help to keep eyes strong and healthy and possibly prevent night-blindness and macular degeneration.
  • Impotence - Arginine, present in water melon, is beneficial in the prevention of erectile dysfunction.
Dan Gerhardt

Meet The Author

Dan Gerhardt - Aside from being a life-long gardener, Dr. Dan Gerhardt is a chiropractor and nutritionist.

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Nutrition, Health, Benefits, Watermelons, Fruit · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
You need to be writing novels. Great article!

9 years ago ·
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