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Watermelon is centuries old fruit that is juicy and sweet, and many view it as a perfect treat to quench your thirst during summer heat.

With a bright red flesh and little seeds embedded throughout, watermelon is packed with a plethora of nutrients and antioxidants that include vitamins A and C.

Here are some of the top health benefits of watermelon.

Staying hydrated is important for your body to function properly.

Body temperature regulation, normal organ function, nutrient delivery to cells, and alertness are only some of the bodily processes that rely on adequate hydration.

Eating foods with a high water content may help give your body the water it needs to function properly. Since watermelon is mostly water, it can serve as a good choice for daily water intake.

That water content also means this melon has a low calorie density — in other words, very few calories for its total weight. Eating foods with low calorie densities like watermelon may help with weight management by keeping you feeling full for longer.

Watermelon contains a variety of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. It’s also relatively low in calories.

Here are the nutrients in 1 cup (152 grams) of raw, diced watermelon:

  • Calories: 46
  • Carbs: 11.5 grams
  • Fiber: 0.6 grams
  • Sugar: 9.4 grams
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 5% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 14% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 4% of the DV

Watermelon is also a rich source of citrulline, an amino acid that may improve exercise performance.

Plus, it boasts antioxidants, including vitamin C, carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E, all of which are beneficial for your health in watermelon as well as other food sources.

These compounds help combat free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may damage your cells if they accumulate in your body. Over time, this damage may lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Several plant compounds found in watermelon, including lycopene and cucurbitacin E, may have possible anticancer effects.

While study results are mixed, lycopene intake may be associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, such as prostate and colorectal cancers.

Lycopene is believed to work by lowering blood levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a hormone that promotes cell division. Notably, cancer forms when cell division becomes uncontrollable.

Additionally, cucurbitacin E may inhibit tumor growth by promoting your body’s process of destroying and removing cancer cells.

All the same, further human research is necessary.

Several nutrients in watermelon may support heart health.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. Lifestyle factors, including the foods you eat, may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Research suggests that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, both key in cardiovascular health.

Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in your body and help your blood vessels expand to lower blood pressure.

Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon include magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C — all of which are healthy and can help your heart and overall health.

Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.

The combination of antioxidants, lycopene, and vitamin C in watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage.

This animal study noted that watermelon powder given to rats to supplement an unhealthy diet developed less oxidative stress and lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein than those in the control group.

Additionally, an 8-week study gave 31 people with obesity and high inflammatory markers 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily. They showed a significant decrease in inflammatory markers compared with the control group.

As an antioxidant, lycopene may also delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. But more research is needed on that topic.

Somewhat connected to the effects on inflammation in your body, watermelon may also benefit your bones and joint health.

The fruit contains a natural pigment called beta-cryptoxanthin, which may protect your joints from inflammation. Though it’s limited, research even indicates that over time, less inflammation could help protect you from developing conditions such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

More research is needed.

The watermelon compound lycopene may have benefits for your eyes.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults.

Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent and inhibit AMD, though research is limited. This study that treated eye cells with lycopene found that it decreased the capacity of inflammatory markers to damage cells.

Keep in mind that more research is necessary.

Citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon, may have benefits that include improving exercise performance and reducing muscle soreness.

It’s also available as a supplement.

One review found that regular intake of citrulline for at least 7 days improved aerobic performance by increasing the body’s production of nitric oxide, which helps expand blood vessels so that your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump blood through your body.

What’s more, some evidence suggests that watermelon itself — not just citrulline — may aid your body after exercise.

Still, more research is needed.

Vitamins A and C, which are found in watermelon, are important for skin health.

Vitamin C — either when eaten or applied topically — helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.

A higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements may decrease your chances of developing wrinkles and dry skin.

Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells.

Bear in mind that further studies on watermelon specifically are needed.

Watermelon contains plenty of water and a small amount of fiber, both of which are necessary for healthy digestion.

Fiber helps keep your bowels regular, while water more efficiently moves waste through your digestive tract.

Does watermelon have a lot of sugar?

Watermelon does contain natural sugar, though it has less than other fruits. A medium-sized wedge (286g or roughly one-six of a watermelon) has about 17.7g of total sugars in it. This is a healthy fruit or people with diabetes and those monitoring their blood sugar levels, though portion size and how much watermelon you eat are all important to keep in mind. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fresh, frozen, or canned fruit without added sugars.

Is watermelon a superfood?

Yes, watermelon is considered a superfood. The term “superfood” was created for marketing purposes to help sell certain healthy foods, and it’s generally used for foods that have a lot of nutritional benefit while only having minimal calories. There is no hard or fast rule as to what foods meet that criteria, but they’re generally packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That certainly applies to watermelon.

Can you eat watermelon at night?

Since watermelon is mostly water and can help hydrate your body, you can eat this fruit before bed.

Watermelon is a tasty, thirst-quenching fruit that many people enjoy in the heat of summer.

It has a very high water content and provides nutrients like lycopene, citrulline, and vitamins A and C.

Studies suggest that this sweet, red melon may even boost heart health, reduce muscle soreness, and decrease inflammation, though more research is needed.