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Ear-deep in watermelon, a boy eats a juicy slice at a festival. 1963

Ear-deep in watermelon, a boy eats a juicy slice at a festival.

Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic

Amanda Fiegl

National Geographic

Published August 20, 2013

Big, sloppy slices of watermelon served at a picnic table are the quintessential summer snack—sweet enough to be dessert but, as several recent studies remind us, good for our health as well. (And only 84 calories per wedge!)

1. It soothes sore muscles.

According to a new study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, drinking watermelon juice before a hard workout helped reduce athletes' heart rate and next-day muscle soreness. That's because watermelon is rich in an amino acid called L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, an essential amino acid that helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation.

The study's seven participants, all men, were given 17 ounces (500 mL) of either natural watermelon juice, watermelon juice enriched with additional citrulline, or a placebo drink an hour before their workouts. Interestingly, the natural juice was just as effective as the enriched juice. The researchers also determined that intestinal cells can absorb more citrulline from watermelon juice than from citrulline supplements, especially when the juice is unpasteurized.

2. It helps heart health.

Postmenopausal women experienced improved cardiovascular health after six weeks of taking commercially available watermelon extract supplements containing citrulline and arginine, according to a study published earlier this year by Florida State University physiologist Arturo Figueroa.

And in a 2012 study—also led by Figueroa—such supplements helped alleviate high blood pressure in obese, middle-aged adults. (Not surprisingly, he's received two grants from the Watermelon Promotion Board.)

3. It could be a natural Viagra.

Improved circulation can benefit more than just the heart, as at least one watermelon researcher has pointed out. But you'd probably have to eat an awful lot to achieve the desired effect--and eating too much could cause unfortunate side effects, since watermelon has long had a reputation as a natural diuretic.

4. It's rich in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories.

Given its name, you might assume the fruit has little nutritional value—and it is more than 90 percent water. But a 10-ounce (300-mL) wedge of watermelon packs in about one-third of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and C, as well as a modest amount of potassium (9 percent of the daily value).

(Watch: Cranberry Harvest)

5. It could even combat cancer.

Watermelon is among the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, although scientists are still investigating the details of that connection.

(Related news: "Watermelon Juice May Be Next 'Green' Fuel.")

40 comments
P. Barrows
P. Barrows

It is Halloween and this article is making me crave watermelon.

Hannan Shafique
Hannan Shafique

Water Mellon is a great healthy food that is perfect for eating in summers. But follow precautions of not taking water after eating it. Impacts would be adversely dangerous to your health, otherwise. 

Tahseen Azmi
Tahseen Azmi

Thank you, I have taken facts and am publishing a post on my blog fantasticworld-1blogspot.com. I shall cite your article. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Honey Dust
Honey Dust

My easy to make Watermelon Cucumber Juice recipe is perfect for summer :) http://www.honeydustblog.com/recipes/watermelon-cucumber-juice

Anleth Duarte
Anleth Duarte

just found great watermelon deal at valley produce. price? 4 for $1.00!!!!!

Dewan Siddique
Dewan Siddique

Watermelon is really cheap in Bangladesh,just BDT 50-60 (USD 0.60)/piece

Mg Mg Swe
Mg Mg Swe

Already drank watermelon juice

Janeth Muñoz
Janeth Muñoz

OTRO GRAN BENEFICIO DR LA NATURALEZA. ES DELICIOSO Y MUY BARATO

Nely Perez
Nely Perez

Very good because I stop to eate it cuz I was afraid of the sugar, I love watermelon

Lam Nguyen
Lam Nguyen

Can I squeeze a watermelon and drink the juice instead of eating it to get the same benefits?

Sanil Sampat
Sanil Sampat

A truly interesting fact of watermelons...which is my favorite fruit as well.. 

Aradia Paganus
Aradia Paganus

Now I won't feel as ashamed next time I devour a whole watermelon in one sitting... 

Of course one has to consider how many calories one will burn running to the bathroom to pee every five minutes for the next three hours. It could be a negative-calorie food. ;-) 

Ian Hayes
Ian Hayes

Does this include the various types like seedless, mini ?

Everson Arthur
Everson Arthur

Sou igual a Magali, sempre com uma fatia de melancia por perto!!!

Margaret Nosworthy
Margaret Nosworthy

I am going to buy a whole watermelon and can use all of it (being only one person) by juicing it. thank you for the info

Brigette Hyacinth
Brigette Hyacinth

Watermelon  has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits

Additionally, It not only replaces the electrolytes lost through sweat but also hydrates your cells and maintains the water balance in the cells.

It also acts as a natural moisturizer as well as a toner and keeps the skin cool, glowing and fresh.

 

KAYODE IDOWU
KAYODE IDOWU

ITS GREAT I THINK I WILL EAT IT OFTEN FROM NOW

dan han
dan han

I couldn't love it more

Markus Himawan
Markus Himawan

I'm so going to eat more of these from now on.. despite the fact that I'm still an unemployment :<

lolly tiu
lolly tiu

I always knew it :))))) thanks nat geo!!!!!

H. Rossouw
H. Rossouw

love watermelon- didn't know it was THAT good for me:)

Gangadharan Pulingat
Gangadharan Pulingat

Watermelon is a good nourishing fruit drink and in summer it is very much helpful to maintain our body temperature and coolness.  There are different varieties seeing in watermelon in different locations of cultivation and its price is common man's convenience and affordability.  The nature's wonderful gift as watermelon must be encouraged to cultivate worldwide and researches are to be conducted for proper certification of usefulness and health aspects.

sebi guzem
sebi guzem

oooooooooooo! asa era la bunu'meu la tara!

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