Thursday, August 9, 2012

Watermelon and Its Health Benefits



Watermelon is a member of cucurbitaceae family of plant. It is a short-lived vine that grows on the ground and is closely related to the cantaloupe, pumpkin, cucumber and squash. A ripe watermelon weighs one or more pounds, is spherical or oblong in shape, and has a light green rind that is either striped or spotted. The flesh is colored red with plenty of small black seed embedded in it. The juiciness of the flesh and its sweet taste make it an ideal treat for the hot summer days.


Today, people live in an environment that is more polluted than ever because of excessive use of fossil fuel and irresponsible ways of disposing waste. Chemicals are also used in the production and processing of foods. Those situations along with some people’s unhealthy lifestyle like smoking cigarette and drinking too much alcohol make them prone to suffer cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s , high blood pressure, heart, diabetes and other diseases.                                                       

Above conditions plus over exposure to the sun and aging bring about oxidative damage to the cells of the body caused by free radicals. Free radical is molecule that has at least one unpaired electron and will be on a rampage with other molecules to have that missing electron. On that state there will be chain reaction of molecules and the cells will be damaged. Affected cells mutate and behave abnormally. A person with this condition of cells in his body will get sick and if it is not treated, his health and even his life could be in jeopardy.

Nature has designed the human body in such a way that its immune system can protect itself against attack. However, its immune system is weakened with age and other factors. Fortunately, the foods that it consumes aside from giving it necessary nutrients have also properties that help protect it from infections and diseases.
Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant properties that can prevent damage to the cells because of oxidations and it also help cure the cells that are already damaged by free radicals. Anti oxidants are free radical scavengers. They also enhance the body’s immune system.

Watermelon is a fruit rich in antioxidants which are vitamins A and C, beta carotene and lycopene. The pigments of the lycopene in the flesh of the watermelon make its color red. Water melon is 91% water and the remaining 8% is loaded with lycopene.                                                                                       

Following are the health benefits of watermelon:
  • ·         It is good for the heart. It contains the amino-acid celluline which through certain enzymes is converted into arginine. Arginine is a precursor of nitric acid which rids the lining of the blood vessels of stuck cholesterol that is oxidized by free radicals. This improves blood flow thus normalizing blood pressure and benefiting the heart. Moreover, water melon is rich in potassium which is also good for the heart.     
  • ·         It may enhance libido. The improve blood circulation resulting from intake of watermelon means that blood will also have smooth flow in the veins of the male genitals thus preventing erectile dysfunction. 
  • ·         It is a remedy for diabetes. Arginine has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in obese type 2 diabetic person with insulin resistance.
  • ·         It helps prevent cancer.  Vitamins, A and C in watermelon are antioxidants and so are beta carotene and lycopene. Vitamins C and beta carotene reduce the risk of colon cancer. And lycopene is a carotenoid that reduces the risk of prostate, breast, endometrial, lung and colorectal cancers. 
  • ·        It reduces macular degeneration. Water melon is rich in vitamin A that is good for the health of the eyes. Consumption of watermelon help reduce the risk of vision loss as a result of aging.
  • ·         It reduces inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Watermelon is rich in vitamin C and beta carotene, antioxidants that can help reduce swelling of the body joints during the onset of those diseases.  
  • ·         It relaxes the airway during asthma attack. The vitamin C and beta carotene of watermelon help reduce the swelling of the airways and improve the condition of a person having asthma.
  • ·         It boosts energy production. Watermelon contains vitamin B6 as well as magnesium and potassium. These vitamin and minerals are necessary to refresh the body after strenuous activities.

It would be more effective and enjoyable to eat variations of fruits, vegetables and other foods in order to maximize the health and healing properties of watermelon. For example, the benefits of watermelon could be enhanced if the person also drinks green tea, a beverage that is also rich in anti-oxidant called flavanoids.  The key to good health is a balanced diet, exercise, sleep and recreation. Moderation should be observed in eating and other activities because excesses will do more harm than good. With its health benefits, watermelon should be a part of our diet in fruits.

Nutrient Data for Raw Watermelon per 100 grams
                     Nutrient

   Value
   Unit
Proximates
         Water
91.45
g
         Energy
30
Kcal
         Protein
0.47
g
         Total lipid (fat)
0.61
g
         Carbohydrates, by difference
7.55
g
         Fiber, total dietary
0.4
g
         Sugar, total
6.2
g
Minerals        
         Calcium, Ca
7
mg
         Iron, Fe
0.24
mg
         Magnesium, Mg
10
mg
         Phosphorus, P
11
mg
         Potassium, K
112
mg
         Sodium, Na
1
mg
         Zinc, Zn
0.1
mg
Vitamins   
          Vitamin C   
8.1
mg
          Thiamin
0.033
mg
          Riboflavin
0.021
mg
          Niacin
0.178
mg
          Vitamin B-6
0.045
mg
          Folate, DFE
3
mcg_DFE
          Vitamin A, RAE
28
mcg_RAE
          Vitamin A, IU
569
IU
          Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
0.05
mg
          Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
0.1
µg
Lipids
          Fatty acids, total saturated
0.016
g
          Fatty acids, total monounsaturated
0.037
g
          Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated
0.05
g

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

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