Watermelon is a source of minerals and antioxidants which the body needs to stay healthy
| By Chinwe Okafor | Dec. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
STAYING healthy the rest of someone’s life means inculcating the habit of eating healthy and right foods. They could be vegetables, fruits and other low fatty and energy giving foods among others. However, some of the most ignored foods around us have so many nutrients than the most sought after ones. For instance, the watermelon fruit which does not necessarily need much money to get is found almost everywhere in the world.
Although watermelon can be found in Nigerian markets throughout the year, not many people are aware of its health benefits. Watermelon is a rich source of antioxidants. The fruit is an excellent source of several vitamins which include: vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyes; vitamin C, which helps to strengthen immunity, heals wounds, prevents cell damages, promotes healthy teeth and gums and vitamin B6, which helps the brain to function normally and also helps to convert protein to energy among other nutrients.
Given its nutritional contents, nutritionists, medical professionals, scientists and researchers have taken out time to find out more about the health benefits of watermelon and surprisingly, its benefits are tremendous. They include, lower blood pressure because it contains a compound known as citrulline in the bloodstream which signals the body to release a compound that causes the blood vessels to dilate. As a result, blood flows through the vessels easily, causing less pressure on the vessel walls. It boosts heart health, controls weight gain, plays an active role in fighting cancers such as breast, prostrate and colorectal cancer.
Watermelon is rich in antioxidants such as lycopene which contains twice the amount found in tomatoes, boosts libido and improves fertility. A study done by the Indian Association of Urologists, reveals that because of the lycopene content in the fruit, it is helpful in increasing male fertility by improving both sperm concentration and motility. It’s also effective in reducing body temperature. Many people in the tropical regions eat the fruit to protect them from heat stroke. In many countries, the fruit is sold by vendors in almost every street.
It eases arthritis, stooling, eases heartburns and morning sickness because of its high water content which is 92 percent and fruit sugar alleviates morning sickness and dehydration. Interestingly, a 2003 study in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that daily lycopene supplements reduced the incidence of preeclampsia by 50 percent. Watermelon helps to avert infections and also plays an important role in the treatment of many infections in the body. As a rich source of vitamin-C, it helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.
The fruit sustains healthy kidneys because it contains a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing off the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby lowering the chances of kidney damage and formation of kidney stones. In addition to helping to prevent dehydration due to its high water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of kidneys.
Despite these many benefits, some people still avoid watermelon because they say it has high a level of sugar, but according to a recent research, the sweet red-fleshed fruit is associated with a wide range of benefits. A fully-ripened watermelon is typically six percent sugar and 92 percent water by weight, so it is not surprising why a number of people may wonder about its potential health benefits apart from being a sweet thirst quencher, said Uche Ogbanufe, a nutritionist with Kogi State General hospital.
She also added that the seeds of the fruit are also healthy and have their own nutrients. Though it can be frustrating to eat the seeds and the fruits too because as a little kid, we were told that whenever you eat any seed from a fruit that a tree would germinate in your stomach. But she added that roasting the seeds of a watermelon creates a crunchy snack filled with various food nutrients which provides a wide array of health benefits.
According to her, the dried watermelon seeds are used to prepare soup and sauces because they are very high in protein and a vital nutrient for overall health which helps to build and maintain muscles and other tissues. Watermelons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber.