Watermelon Has Way More Health Benefits Than You Might Think
There's something about a simple bowl of perfectly cubed watermelon or a freshly cut slice of the fruit — whether you're eating it amid summer's thick heat or any other time of year — that's so satisfying. Maybe it's the color, the crunch, or the slightly-sweet taste. Regardless of why or when you're enjoying watermelon, one thing's for sure: it's a real treat.
In addition to savoring this fruit for its tastiness, you may be wondering about the nutritional benefits of watermelon. After all, you can now buy watermelon water (backed by none other than Beyoncé) and other watermelon-infused beverages that tout tons of benefits, like hydration and antioxidants. But how nutritious is watermelon really?
If you're curious about what watermelon can do for you health-wise — and if there are any drawbacks to eating watermelon — here's the lowdown of nutritional info you should know, including a final answer to the question: Is watermelon good for you?
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Here are watermelon's nutritional facts, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). One cup of diced watermelon contains:
- Calories: 46
- Protein: 1 g
- Fat: .2 g
- Carbohydrate: 11 g
- Fiber: .6 g
- Sugar: 9 g
Watermelon is also a good source of vitamins A and C (providing 5 percent and 14 percent of your daily recommended value per cup, respectively), and lycopene, an antioxidant in red-colored fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, per the USDA.
One cup of watermelon also offers 170 mg of the mineral and electrolyte potassium, which is about 4 percent of your daily recommended value, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Like other electrolytes, potassium helps to maintain normal levels of fluid inside your cells, aiding in proper hydration. It also aids in nerve and cell function, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Megan Meyer, PhD, director of science communications at the International Food Information Council Foundation, notes that watermelon is lower in fiber than some other fruits like berries, apples, and oranges. For example, one cup of watermelon has only .6 grams of fiber, whereas one cup of blueberries has 3.6 grams, per the USDA.
Watermelon Health Benefits
Watermelon is hydrating. "While about 80 percent of our water intake comes from drinking fluids, the other 20 percent comes from the foods we eat," explains Dr. Meyer. Water content in food varies, but since watermelon is made up of over 90 percent water, she says it can certainly help with hydration. That hydration benefit is compounded by the fact that watermelon contains the electrolyte potassium, which helps maintain the fluid balance in your cells.
It's great for an energy boost. Fruit, in general, is one of the "best carbohydrate choices you can make," says registered dietitian Brittany L. Jones of Blush Nutrition, since carbohydrates are considered natural sugars. Those natural sugars provide your body with a quick source of energy making it a great option for either a pre- or post-workout snack. If you're enjoying watermelon as part of a meal, just be sure to "add some non-starchy vegetables and protein to your meals as well to round out your plate," Jones says.
It can help protect against disease. Lycopene, one of the antioxidants found in watermelon, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research. Other studies have shown it can also improve cardiovascular health and help with UV protection, per Frontiers in Pharmacology and research out of Scientific Reports. Pro tip: the darker red the watermelon is, the more lycopene it will have, Jones says. Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C, another antioxidant that's been found to neutralize free radical molecules, which in excess, can damage cells, according to Harvard Health Publishing. That cell damage can lead to chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease and cancer, according to research.
It can help with workout performance and muscle soreness. Watermelon is also rich in the amino acid citrulline, which helps to improve blood flow and muscle function, per the Cleveland Clinic. Research shows that consuming a citrulline supplement close to a workout can help significantly reduce muscle soreness after exercise, though another study found that natural watermelon juice helps to reduce recovery heart rate and muscle soreness just as well.
It can help reduce blood pressure. The potassium, citrulline, and lycopene in watermelon all work in different ways to lower blood pressure, and together, they make watermelon quite good at doing so, too. For example, one 2014 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that eating watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in individuals who were overweight.
The seeds offer even more benefits. If you worried as a kid that eating a watermelon seed would sprout one in your stomach, the good news is that's not the case. And even better? Watermelon seeds offer their own health benefits. The seeds offer some of the nutrients that watermelon flesh is lacking, including plenty of protein and fat — 8 grams and 13 grams per ounce, respectively, per the USDA. They're also rich in the mineral magnesium and the B vitamin folate, both of which help your body work well and avoid disease, per the Cleveland Clinic. Like many other seeds, watermelon seeds also have good-for-you fatty acids.
Can You Eat Too Much Watermelon?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, two servings (i.e. two cups) of watermelon per day is advised. If you want to go back for a third or fourth serving, there are a few things to consider before you do.
Watermelon is considered a high-FODMAP food meaning it may not be absorbed well and could cause gas, according to the International Food Information Council. "If you have irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, you may want to limit how much you eat," Dr. Meyer says.
Eating a large amount of watermelon might also leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortably full because of the high water content, Dr. Meyer notes.
Because watermelon can reduce blood pressure, you may want to limit your servings of the fruit if you're already on blood-pressure medication (including spironolactone, which is prescribed for acne but was created to treat high blood pressure). That's because potassium-rich foods, like watermelon, can potentially cause complications, per the Cleveland Clinic. As always, it's best to discuss with your doctor if you're concerned about your blood pressure or medication.
So, Is Watermelon Good For You?
The answer — to the joy of watermelon lovers everywhere — is that, yes, watermelon is good for you. That being said, no single food should take over your diet, since you need a variety of nutrients to keep your body working well. But you can enjoy watermelon within your recommended daily intake of fruit (between two and four cups per day) without worry.
If you're looking for inspiration for how to eat more watermelon, look to this no-bake watermelon cake with vanilla bean whipped cream, berries, and almonds; watermelon mango salsa; and even watermelon tequila popsicles. TikTok has even gotten people to try mustard on watermelon (don't knock it until you try it). Whether you want to eat it fresh or glam it up, take heart that watermelon is as good for you as it tastes.
— Additional reporting by Samantha Brodsky