Health Benefits of Watermelon

What is Watermelon ?

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) belongs to the plant family Cucurbitaceae. (1) It is a fruit that originates from Kalahari desert of Africa.

Watermelon is is rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, lycopene, citrulin, ascorbic acid and cucurbitacin E, which are important for the prevention of various chronic diseases.

Watermelon is high in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) that enhances immune system, metabolic reactions and hydratation of the organism. The main function of ascorbic acid is the absorption of iron molecules from the digestive tract.

It is low caloric fruit.

Watermelon picture 1

Health Benefits of Watermelon

Its red colour originates from a type of red carotenoid pigment named lycopene.

1. Lycopene

Lycopene is shown to has a protective role against cancer, macular degeneration, cardiac disorders, diabetes, X radiation, Alzheimer’s disease and beta thalassemia. It is involved in immune system reactions,

Watermelon aroma originates from medium and short-chain fatty acids, citrulin, geranial, ß-ionone and neral.

2. Citruline

Citruline is an amino acid that is being transformed into arginine in the kidneys. As such, it enhances blood flow and an overall cardiovascular performance.

Watermelon is rich in antioxidants such as lutein, zexanthin, lycopen and carotenoids . Antioxidants are potent anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, antiinflamatory, antihypertensive and cardioprotective molecules.

3. Cardiovascular Effect

Watermelon is potent in preventing cardiovascular disorders ( vitamin B6, A,C, and potassium).

Lycopene is one of the major substances that decreases blood pressure and cholesterol level.

The main mechanism of lycopene is its ability to decrease the damage of the arterial walls. (2)

Citrulin is found in watermelon, an amino acid that elevates the concentration of nitric oxide in the organism which leads to vasodilatation and decreased blood pressure.(3)

4.May Decrease Cholesterol Levels

Researchers have found that lycopene is a major contributing factor that decreases the oxidative stress of cholesterol molecules. (4)

cholesterol molecules

5. May Prevent Cancer

In the recent studies it has been concluded that lycopene decreases the risk of cancer, especially in the gastrointestinal system.(4)

Lycopene decreases the concentration of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) that is responsible for cell proliferation and division.

Further studies are necessary to confirm the antitumor effect of cucurbitacin E. (5)

May Prevent Prostate Cancer

High concentration of IGF-I that inhibits cell death, have been linked to the increased risk of prostate cancer.

 

Lycopene is the main molecule that inhibits IGF-I signaling, although further research is necessary.(6)

6. Antioxidotive and Antiinflamatory Effect

Watermelon is abundant in antioxidative molecules such are lycopene and vitamin C.

7. Enhance Weight Loss

There is 92% of water content in watermelon. It reduces fat and fights obesity, as well as citrulin.

 

Citrulin converts to arginin that inhibits the activity of an enzyme named tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP). In such circumstances, TNAP in inactivated which leads to decreased deposits of intracellular fat.(8)

8. Prevention of Asthma

Ascorbic acid is of great value in the treatment of asthma symptoms. It reduces the inflammation of upper respiratory airways. (9)

9. Neurological Effect

Lycopene is has neuroprotective effect on brain tissue. Thus, it could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. (10)

Neurological Effect

10. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Due to anti-inflammatory properties of watermelon compounds, it is benefitial in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. (11)

The presence of L-arginine decreases inflammatory reactions and increases muscle regeneration.

11. Vison

Watermelon has high levels of vitamin A, therefore leads to the prevention of vision defects, such as macular degeneration.

Lycopene in watermelon may act protective of human vision. It is found in certain eye structures where it reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.

Health benefits of watermelon eye vision

Lycopene is also able to prevent blindness due to its prevention or regression of macular degeneration in elderly. (4)

12. Relieves Muscle Pain And Stiffness

Citruline, contained in watermelon is essential for athletes muscle recovering. (12)

 

It is also effective in enhancing exercise endurance and overall performance. (13)

13. Skin Effects

The most important vitamins for the skin health in watermelon are A and C.

Vitamin C is responsible for the production of collagen, a protein essential for the skin physiology.Lycopene and beta-carotene are able to prevent human skin from sunburn injuries(14)

Vitamin A is important for proper skin cells reparation and formation.

14. Hair Health

Vitamin C is capable of inducing hair growth.

Hair Health

The derivates of vitamin C such as 1-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate activate human fibroblasts and osteoblasts, thus are indicated for the stimulation of hair growth.

15. Enhances Wound Healing

Watermelon is high in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) that is essential for the proper skin layers maturation. (15)

16. Protects From Heat Hyperpyrexia

Watermelon is effective in reducing the heat stroke and blood pressure.

 

Due to high percentage of water (92%), it is recommended in the prevention of heat stroke.

17. Enhance Immune Function

High concentration of vitamin C in watermelon, as well as other vitamins and minerals act as powerful stimulators of immune system functions.

18. Improves Male Impotence

L-arginine is the precursor of nitric oxide which is important for the proper penile vasodilatation. Arginin is present in watermelon in high amounts and improves significantly sexual performance. (16)

19. Protects From Subburn

Being an antioxidant, lycopene is able to decrease the skin sensitivity to sunburn.

20. Anti Inflammatory Effect

Due to cucurbitacin E, a substance with antioxidant and antiinflammatory attributes.

Lycopene acts as an inhibitor of several biochemical reactions involved in inflammation. It also contributes to neutralization of free radicals due to its antioxidative attributes.

Anti Inflammatory Effect

Researches have found that watermelon contains choline which is important for decreasing the chronic inflammatory process.

21. Anti Oxidative Effect

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.

Watermelon is as well rich in other antioxidants such as lutein, zexanthin, lycopen and carotenoids.

22. Gastrointestinal effect

Watermelon is rich in fiber and water, thus may improve peristalsis and regulate the body weight.

23. Rehydration

Watermelon is composed of 92% of water, therefore it has enormous hydratating potential.(4)

Watermelon is rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C. It is of great value in the proper hydratation of the human organism.

Possible Side Effects

1.Hyperkalemia

In case of high concentration of potassium in the blood, hyperkalemia will arise.

2.Allergic Reactions

Individuals sensitive to cucumber, celery or prone to latex allergies are more often allergic to watermelon ingredients.

 

References

  1. Edwards AJ.Consumption of watermelon juice increases plasma concentrations of lycopene and beta-carotene in humans.J Nutr. 2003 Apr;133(4):1043-50.
  2. Figueroa A et al. Effects of watermelon supplementation on arterial stiffness and wave reflection amplitude in postmenopausal women.Menopause. 2013 May;20(5):573-7.
  3. Collins JK et al. .Watermelon consumption increases plasma arginine concentrations in adults.Nutrition. 2007 Mar;23(3):261-6.
  4. Ambreen Naz et al. Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI J. 2014; 13: 650–660.
  5. Attard E1, Martinoli MG..Cucurbitacin E, An Experimental Lead Triterpenoid with Anticancer, Immunomodulatory and Novel Effects Against Degenerative Diseases. A Mini-Review.Curr Top Med Chem. 2015;15(17):1708-13
  6. Xunxian Liu. Lycopene inhibits IGF-I signal transduction and growth in normal prostate epithelial cells by decreasing DHT-modulated IGF-I production in co-cultured reactive stromal cells. Carcinogenesis (2008) 29 (4): 816-823.
  7. Jacob K.Influence of lycopene and vitamin C from tomato juice on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation.Br J Nutr. 2008 Jan;99(1):137-46. Epub 2007 Jul 19.
  8. Bi’e Tan,et al. Regulatory roles for L-arginine in reducing white adipose tissue. Front Biosci. 2012 Jun 1; 17: 2237–2246.
  9. Cohen HA, Neuman I, Nahum H.Blocking effect of vitamin C in exercise-induced asthma..Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997 Apr;151(4):367-70
  10. Wei Chen. Lycopene attenuates Aβ1–42 secretion and its toxicity in human cell and Caenorhabditis elegans models of Alzheimer disease. Neuroscience Letters Volume 608, 3 November 2015, Pages 28–33
  11. Karim Hnia. l-Arginine Decreases Inflammation and Modulates the Nuclear Factor-κB/Matrix Metalloproteinase Cascade in Mdx Muscle Fibers. Am J Pathol. 2008 Jun; 172(6): 1509–1519.
  12. Tarazona-Díaz MP, Alacid F, Carrasco M, Martínez I, Aguayo E.Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes.J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Aug 7;61(31):7522-8.
  13. Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM.Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22.
  14. Stahl W, Sies H.Photoprotection by dietary carotenoids: concept, mechanisms, evidence and future development.Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Feb;56(2):287-95.
  15. Moores J.Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective.Br J Community Nurs. 2013 Dec;Suppl:S6, S8-11.
  16. Stanislavov R, Nikolova V.Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L-arginine.J Sex Marital Ther. 2003 May-Jun;29(3):207-13.