Watermelon is a healthy fruit with a high water content, low calorie content and delivers other important nutrients such as vitamins A, B6 and C, lycopene, antioxidants, amino acids and potassium.
Dr Henry Ssekyanzi, a general practitioner at Mulago National Referral Hospital, says keeping hydrated is an important aspect of healthy living but is a nightmare for some people because they do not drink enough water.
If you are the type, eating watermelon is a good hydrating option for you. This is because it will make you feel full as well as keep you hydrated all the time.
“Vitamin A and C contained in the watermelon are good for skin and hair health because they help to create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin will be dry and flaky. The vitamin C helps your body to make collagen, a protein that keeps the skin elastic and hair strong,” he says.
Besides being able to quench your thirst, watermelon has a crunchy element which induces the production of saliva, making it good for oral health.
Watermelon contains a lot of water and fibre which are essential for healthy digestion.
“The fibre adds bulk to stool while water keeps your digestive tract moving efficiently. Drinking water and eating fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, promotes normal bowel movements thereby preventing digestive problems such as constipation,” Dr Ssekyanzi says.
Also, the vitamin B6 in the watermelon helps in the breakdown of protein. Therefore, the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need to break it down.
“If you are diabetic, Dr Ssekyanzi warns, limit your intake of watermelon to just a slice because it is said to have a high glycemic index which is likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels once consumed in large amounts.”
Dr Paul Kasenene, a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre, the potassium in watermelon is vital for the healthy functioning of all of your body’s cells, tissues and organs. It aids in the contraction of the skeletal and smooth muscles. Daily intake of potassium is, therefore, important for regular digestive and muscular functioning.
He says: “Potassium is also good for heart health because normal heart rhythm arises from optimal muscular functioning. If the amount of potassium in your body is excessively high or low, your heart will develop an irregular heartbeat. Low potassium levels sometimes cause muscle cramps.”
Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases and watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage because it is rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamin C.
“The lycopene antioxidant is also beneficial for brain health as it delays the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss,” says Dr Kasenene.
Dr Paul Kasenene, a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre, says when whole, watermelon is better kept at room temperature. This is because they are known to retain more antioxidants this way.
Subjecting them to cold temperatures makes them lose their nutrient value.
However, after cutting, watermelons should be kept in the fridge. Just remember to wrap them after you cut them. Leaving them unwrapped will make them absorb the tastes of other foods as well as bacteria.