Watermelon has more health benefits than you think, according to new research

Watermelon, popular as a summer fruit due to its refreshing qualities, has proved to be a valuable addition to a healthy diet, according to recent research published in the journal Nutrients. The study highlights the positive impact of watermelon on nutrient intake and overall diet quality, particularly in children and adults.

The research, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), revealed that people who consumed watermelon had a higher quality diet than non-consumers of the fruit.

The study found that both children and adults who included watermelon in their diets had a higher intake of vital nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene and other carotenoids. Additionally, watermelon consumers had lower intakes of added sugars and total saturated fatty acids, further contributing to improved overall health.

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Kristen Fulgoni, research analyst and study author, will present these findings at the upcoming Nutrition 2023 conference, hosted by the American Society for Nutrition, in Boston, MA this week.

The role of watermelon in heart health

In another study published in Nutrients, Louisiana State University researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study to examine the effects of watermelon juice supplementation on vascular function during hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The study focused in particular on the potential benefits of two compounds found in watermelon, L-citrulline and L-arginine, on the bioavailability of nitric oxide and heart rate variability.

The study demonstrated that watermelon juice supplementation protected vascular function, helping to improve cardiovascular health.

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This particular study had a small sample size, but adds to the growing body of evidence supporting regular watermelon consumption for cardio-metabolic health.

In particular, watermelon’s high antioxidant content, along with its abundance of vitamin C and lycopene, may play a crucial role in reducing oxidative stress and preventing heart disease.

“We acknowledge that while the sample size was small (18 healthy young men and women) and more research is needed, this study adds to the current body of evidence supporting regular watermelon intake for cardio-metabolic health,” Jack Losso, PhD, a professor in Louisiana State University’s School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, said in a statement.

“In addition to L-citrulline and L-arginine, watermelon is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C and lycopene, which may help reduce oxidative stress and play a role in heart disease prevention,” Losso said.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a daily intake of 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit. However, current statistics show that both adults and children in the United States fall short of this goal, consuming only half the recommended amount.

With its impressive nutrient profile, including 25% Daily Value for vitamin C and 92% water content, watermelon is an excellent choice for filling this nutritional gap. Plus, a two-cup serving of watermelon contains just 80 calories, making it a healthy and hydrating option.

In particular, thanks to the different climates that allow the production of watermelons all year round, this nutrient-rich fruit can be enjoyed at any time. Recent nutrition research serves as a reminder to incorporate watermelon into a balanced diet no matter the season.

The health benefits of fruit

In addition to watermelon, many studies have investigated the benefits of consuming fruit on human health. A study published in the journal Fertility and sterility earlier this year found that a diet consisting of hearty fruits is associated with a 61 percent lower risk of miscarriage. Another study published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Neurologyfound that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables could reduce the rate of memory decline.

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“Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way for people to take an active role in maintaining brain health,” study author Thomas M. Holland, MD, MS of the Rush University Medical Center of Chicago, said in a statement.

Additionally, another study found that consuming strawberries could help improve heart health in several ways, such as improving endothelial function and blood pressure in people with high cholesterol.

“The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study showed that a fruit-restricted diet is among the top three risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and BHBS Heart and Healthy Aging Session Chair, he said in a statement.

“To address the ‘fruit gap’ we need to increase the total amount of fruit consumed and the diversity of fruit in the diet,” said Burton-Freeman. “The accumulating evidence on cardiometabolic health suggests that as little as one cup of strawberries a day may show beneficial effects.”

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