Sweet, juicy, and delicious, melons make a great addition to any meal. Although melons often appear on the table during summer, you can eat them year-round. And you should if you want their many health benefits.
For instance, eating watermelon before or after a workout could improve your performance. The same fruit may prevent heart disease and soothe your skin. To learn all the health benefits of watermelon, read on. And if you're not a watermelon fan, don't worry; many other melons offer health benefits, too.
Watermelon Helps You Hydrate
As its name implies, watermelon is 92% water. According to the USDA's National Nutrient Database, one cup of watermelon serves over half a cup of water, which is more than most other fruits. It's not empty calories, either. Watermelon supplies fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium.
Because of its high water content, watermelon has few calories per serving. Research has linked watermelon's low-calorie density to lower weight. During a 2014 study published in Advances in Nutrition, researchers found that foods like watermelon keep you fuller for longer. The result is less weight gain and more hydration.
If You Have Sore Muscles, Eat Watermelon
Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, is sold as a supplement to relieve muscle soreness. But the body doesn't absorb the supplement as well as it absorbs watermelon's citrulline. According to 2013 research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, watermelon juice helps muscles relax more than citrulline alone.
The study's authors credit watermelon's healthy compounds and anti-inflammatory properties. So far, this small study is the only one that relates watermelon to muscle soreness. Further research is being conducted on citrulline's effects on exercise.
It Soothes And Protects The Skin
In Korea, people used to rub watermelon rinds on rashes or sunburns to heal them faster. This herbal remedy has some scientific backing. Watermelon contains several minerals that support skin health. "The vitamins A and C found in watermelon can help restore damaged skin after it's exposed to sun, wind, or even stress," says dermatologist Anne Guanche.
Remember the antioxidant lycopene? There's some evidence that it helps your skin, too. In 2012, research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research noted that beta-carotene and lycopene supplements guard the skin against sunburns.
Watermelon Is Good For Your Heart
Your diet is a primary contributor to cardiovascular disease, and watermelon fits into a heart-healthy diet. In 2012, scientists from Purdue University and the University of Kentucky conducted an animal study on watermelon juice. They found that the fruit reduced plaque in the arteries and lowered cholesterol.
The researchers were building on previous studies that connected citrulline to lower blood pressure. As recently as 2019, studies have shown that watermelon's compound citrulline may decrease blood pressure, which significantly reduces your risk of heart disease.
Eat More Melon, Work Out Harder
Because of its ability to alleviate muscle soreness, watermelon has been a favorite among athletes. But 2013 research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found further benefits from watermelon. According to the study, watermelon eaters work out more intensely and recover faster.
The study's authors credit L-citrulline, an essential compound that widens the blood vessels. Athletes who ate watermelon experienced better heart and muscle recovery 24 hours after their workout. Plus, watermelon reduced muscle fatigue and hydrated the athletes. You can't go wrong pairing watermelon with a healthy workout.
It May Keep Your Eyes Sharp
There is some evidence that watermelon guards against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which worsens eyesight with age. According to research in the Archives of Ophthalmology, those who have low levels of lycopene are twice as likely to have AMD as they age. Later research in 2005 showed that lycopene is the only carotenoid that affects AMD.
The National Watermelon Promotion Board reports that watermelon has 15 to 20 mg of lycopene per two cups. That's more than most other fruits. So if you want to protect your eyes against age-related blindness, eat more watermelon.
Keep Your Gut Healthy With Watermelon's Fiber
An average wedge of watermelon contains just over one gram of fiber. While it may not sound like much, remember that most people eat more than one slice in one serving. It adds up. A registered dietitian at Health, Cynthia Sass, says that watermelon's dietary fiber improves digestive health.
Although watermelon helps your gut during the day, it may not do so at night. Nutritionist Dr. Shilpa Arora does not recommend watermelon after 7 p.m. because it is acidic. It may delay your digestion overnight, leading to some stomach upset in the morning.
It Has Cancer-Fighting Nutrients
Although watermelon has not been directly related to fighting cancer, its many nutrients have. Most notably, lycopene has displayed anti-cancer properties. For instance, a 2014 scientific review of lycopene concluded that the nutrient might prevent cancer in the digestive system. Colon, prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers have been observed to shy away from lycopene.
How does lycopene work? According to the Frontiers in Endocrinology, it interrupts insulin-like growth factors (IGF). IGF causes inflammation and cell division that, over time, may contribute to cancer. Fortunately, watermelon has higher lycopene levels than most other fruit.
Watermelon May Help Wounds Heal
Watermelons contain pantothenic acid, which has been shown to accelerate wound healing. In 2018, a study in the Turkish Journal of Biology reported that bitter melon extract healed wounds in rats more quickly. A year earlier, scientists found that this extract also cured diabetic wounds more quickly.
Watermelon's amino acid citrulline also comes into play here. According to a 2007 scientific report from the USDA, citrulline helps cells divide quickly, which contributes to wound healing. Research participants who drank watermelon juice absorbed more citrulline in their bodies than those who took supplements.
Cantaloupes Are Almost As Hydrating As Watermelons
Like watermelons, cantaloupes are mainly water: 90%, to be exact. One cup of the melon lends you over a cup of water. According to Registered Dietitian Ginger Hultin, cantaloupe also replenishes our electrolytes. Notably, it contains potassium, a mineral that we lose when we sweat.
If you regularly exercise, cantaloupe could help keep you hydrated. In Australia, researchers gave athletes potassium-filled drinks. The electrolyte delayed fatigue and kept the athletes energized throughout their workout. Plus, cantaloupe makes a sweet, low-calorie snack that could replace sugary desserts.
They Also Heal Your Hair
In 2019, researchers reported the primary minerals that prevent hair loss in Dermatology and Therapy. Two of the main nutrients were vitamins A and C, and cantaloupe contains both of those. According to dietitian and nutritionist Heather Mangieri, one cup of cantaloupe offers over 100% of your daily vitamin A and 50% of your daily vitamin C.
While vitamin A promotes cell growth in the body, vitamin C produces collagen that strengthens your skin, nails, and of course, hair. Registered dietitian Melissa Majumdar told Reader's Digest that cantaloupe might provide structure for your hair.
Cantaloupe Controls Hunger
Although cantaloupe is naturally low in calories (one-quarter of the melon has 56 cal), it still helps you feel full. According to a study in Appetite, eating some melon before a meal reduces your food intake later. Cantaloupe is so hydrating and high in fiber that it curbs your appetite.
Because cantaloupes have a high amount of water, they may prevent weight gain. In 2015, research in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition noted that eating whole fruit lowers your risk of obesity. When you eat hydrating fruit such as cantaloupe, you might not overeat later.
It You Don't Want Asthma, Eat More Cantaloupe
Unless you have an allergy to cantaloupes, they may prevent asthma from developing. The key is in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that appears in yellow and orange fruits (like cantaloupe). According to 2011 research in the European Respiratory Journal, kids and teenagers who have too little vitamin A have a higher risk of developing asthma.
But cantaloupe has a leg up over other asthma-preventing fruits. In Japan, a study of preschool children noted that low levels of vitamins C and E may trigger asthma, and cantaloupe contains both of those vitamins.
Cut Out Cataracts With Cantaloupes
Vitamin A has long been praised for its ability to improve your eyesight. Because cantaloupe has a high amount of vitamin A, the melon strengthens your eyes as well. In particular, it lowers your risk of cataracts. In a study of over 50,000 women, researchers reported that a diet high in vitamin A lowers the risk of cataract surgery by 39%.
Cantaloupe's vitamin C may guard against cataracts, too. In 2016, research in Ophthalmology concluded that a diet high in vitamin C may prevent cataracts. The researchers emphasized that vitamin C in food has this effect, not supplements.
Roast Cantaloupe Seeds For Better Health
There's no need to toss cantaloupe seeds. If you roast them and eat them, you'll enjoy many health benefits (and a great taste!). To start, the seeds have plenty of protein. According to research in the World Applied Sciences Journal, cantaloupe seeds have protein, fat, and carbohydrate levels similar to soy milk.
Cantaloupe seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The National Institutes of Health explains that these acids give your body energy. Also, omega-3s lower inflammation in the body, which could lower your risk of heart disease.
Cantaloupes Repair Healthy Tissue
A whole cantaloupe contains over 220 mg of vitamin C--over 300% of your daily dose. Along with its many benefits, vitamin C aids tissue repair. During an animal study, researchers reported that giving rats vitamin C accelerated tissue healing.
In 2004, scientists developed a supplement that sped up wound healing by 20%. Their main ingredient was vitamin C, which is also the main vitamin in cantaloupe. There's no need to take vitamin C supplements if you eat a serving of cantaloupe every day.
For Healthy Lungs, Eat More Cantaloupes
It's no secret that eating whole fruit keeps your body healthy. But some people don't know that food contributes to lung health, too. Cantaloupe's vitamin A can repair cells in organs, including lung tissue. According to The American Journal of Physiology, this vitamin may ward off lung diseases.
In 2008, researchers studied how Cucurbitaceae fruits--honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupes--impact the lungs. Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the review of many studies concluded that eating whole fruit may decrease your risk of lung cancer.
It May Fortify Your Immune System
If you want some vitamin C but aren't a fan of oranges, try honeydew. A cup of honey supplies over half of your recommended daily vitamin C, and this could help you through the cold and flu season. In 2017, a Nutrients study reinforced that low vitamin C levels increase your risk of infection.
A registered dietitian and nutritionist from Atlanta, Marisa Moore, told Everyday Health that vitamin C is one of the few that our bodies can't produce. We need that vitamin to maintain bone health and protect our blood vessels. Hence, that wedge of honeydew could do wonders for your health.
Honeydew Hydrates You More Than Water
Since honeydew is 90% water, it is one of the most hydrating fruits out there. But you may be wondering: why eat honeydew when you could just drink a glass of water? Well, researchers from the University of Naples discovered that some fruits and vegetables hydrate you more than plain water.
The scientists explained that to best hydrate your body, you should replenish it with fluid "similar to the body's natural composition." Honeydew contains minerals and natural sodium that are already present in the body. "[Watery fruits and vegetables] can hydrate you more effectively than water alone," said hydration expert and exercise physiologist Dr. Susan Shireffs.
Its Antioxidants Can Help Your Eyes
Honeydew contains two significant antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. The American Optometric Association credits these nutrients with protecting your eyes. According to them, zeaxanthin and lutein filter blue wavelengths away from healthy eye cells, which keep your eyes sharp.
Here's another reason to eat more honeydew: lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent age-related macular degeneration. In 2015, research in the Journal of Ophthalmology stated that these two antioxidants guard the eyes against diseases. Further research from Harvard supported these findings. Like other melons, honeydew may maintain your eyesight if you eat it regularly.
Honeydew Can Help You Sleep
Honeydew contains minerals that could help you sleep. One cup of honeydew lends you 12% of your daily vitamin B-6, which significantly affects your sleep. In 2016, a study in Nutrients determined that too little vitamin B-6 may disturb peoples' sleep. It could also cause emotional disturbances and confusion.
If you want to remember your dreams, honeydew could help that as well. According to research in 2016, vitamin B-6 may help people remember their dreams. It also enhances dream vividness, color, and "emotionality." But stick to a low amount of honeydew; too much B-6 could disrupt your sleep even more.
Honeydew Helps Your Body Create Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B-1 is one of the many nutrients not stored in the body, and when food with B-1 is cooked, the vitamin dissolves. But you don't need to cook honeydew to enjoy it. According to the USDA, honeydew provides a substantial amount of thiamine, another term for vitamin B-1, which promotes blood health.
According to a 2019 scientific review, B-1 absorbs into the bloodstream, where it supports red blood cell production. If you don't receive enough vitamin B-1, you could experience low energy and reduced metabolism.