Watermelon is considered a fruit and it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family.
Also referred to as Citrullus lanatus, the fruit is native to Kalahari desert of Africa. It is currently cultivated in tropical regions of the world.
According to history, the first harvest of watermelon was documented 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
After that harvest, watermelon spread to other parts of the world.
Interestingly, one place this fruit is abundantly available is Nigeria. It could grow almost in all parts of the nation.
However, not everyone adds this fruit to their diet in Nigeria.
Good enough, watermelon has so much health benefits that you should know about.
These benefits should make you consider adding it to your diet.
A 2014 study gave a breakdown of the nutritional composition of watermelon.
As documented, the consumption of 100 grams of watermelon provides 30 kcal.
It contains almost 92% water and 7.55% of carbohydrates out of which 6.2% are sugars and 0.4% dietary fiber.
It is enriched with carotenoid, vitamin C, citrulline, carotenoids, flavonoids and fat.
However, this kind of fat is cholesterol free, thus it is considered as low caloric fruit.
Additionally, watermelon is a rich source of beta-Carotene (ß-carotene) which acts as an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A.
Besides the presence of lycopene, watermelon is a source of B vitamins, especially B1 and B6.
Also, it contains minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
Watermelon, therefore, offers humans the under-listed health benefits.
1. Heart Health
The presence of lycopene in watermelon holds so much for individuals who will add it to their diet.
According to the 2014 study, lycopene has potential to prevent various chronic ailments.
One of such ailments is heart disease.
Sadly, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is contributed by sedentary lifestyle and reported as a leading cause of mortality.
Cardiac risk is elevated due to consumption of high cholesterol diet, resulting in sub-acute chronic inflammation.
However, dietary lycopene is said to exert cardio-protective effects on humans due to their high antioxidant activity.
“Watermelon is also helpful to lessen some other metabolic syndromes owing to vitamin A, B6, C, magnesium, potassium.
“These along with lycopene are health promoting functional ingredients associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disorders.”
2. Addresses Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is an etiological factor that triggers various metabolic dysfunctions.
There are proven facts that uncontrolled oxidation leads to generate excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS).
This reaction is a causative agent of many ailments. Interestingly, these ailments could be addressed through diets that re rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Meanwhile, excessive production of free radicals leads to atherosclerosis. This occurs as a result of inactivation of nitric oxide and impairment of endothelium dependent vasodilatation.
However, a diet-based therapy indicated a significant role of lycopene in the reduction of oxidative damage of DNA and lymphocytes. It also results in a short term improvement in Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation.
3. Watermelon Reduces Risk Of Cancer
Again, the presence of lycopene in watermelon has also been linked with a potency to fight cancer.
According to studies, a number of evidences are available, indicating direct linkages between food active components and cell genomic, with special reference to cancer treatment.
“Being active dietary component, lycopene interferes at various stages of cancer development – DNA mutation and tumor metastasis.”
As a result, it has direct impact on gene and inhibit mutation.
Also, cumulative evidences suggested that lycopene could suppress proliferation of colon cancer.
However, research says understanding of lycopene and gene interaction has not yet been well established and needs further research.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar Level In Diabetics
According to researches, patients with hyperglycemia are more prone towards the risk of coronary complications.
This is often caused by elevated oxidative stress and LDL oxidation.
Also, high glycemic diet significantly elevates glucose and its auto-oxidation. This consequently generates free radicals and cell damage.
However, the lycopene in watermelon helps decreases diabetes in linear fashion by managing glucose abnormalities.
It also has the ability to decrease body glucose and raise insulin level in type II diabetes.
5. Helps Eyesight
In Africa, we are highly exposed to the rays from the sun and this could have effect on our eyes.
On the other hand, in Lagos and other highly populated cities in Nigeria, residents are often exposed to dust and smoke.
The level of dust increases during harmattan, requiring that the eyes should be given proper care.
Macular (eyes) degenerative disease begins with the thinning of macula layer of the retina.
This results in gradual decrease in vision and the symptoms include appearance of yellow spots.
One component in watermelon that works magic for the eyes is carotenoids.
According to researches, carotenoids could reduce the risk of macular and other degenerative disorders.
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