Health benefits of watermelon

About 92 per cent of watermelon consists of water, which nutritionists say makes it healthy and nutritious.

According to Leah Mfiteyesu, a nutritionist from nutrition cabinet Nutri-Sante, Kicukiro, this refreshing fruit is soaked with numerous nutrients and each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids.

She says the fruit is also high in potassium and is fat-free, low in sodium and calories. Noting that, foods that are high in antioxidants and amino acids allow the body to function well.

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She says that antioxidants help prevent damage and cancer. 

Since the fruit contains amino acids, she says they are the basic building block for protein, and protein is used in virtually every vital function in the body.

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, says watermelon has high levels of lycopene.

Lycopene, he says, is very effective at protecting cells from damage and may help lower the risk of heart disease.

By consuming watermelon, he says, it helps to improve blood flow and may help reduce the accumulation of excess fat. 

Musengimana says that the lycopene in watermelon makes it an anti-inflammatory fruit, explaining that lycopene is an inhibitor for various inflammatory processes and also works as an antioxidant to neutralise free radicals.

Additionally, Musengimana says the watermelon contains choline, which helps keep chronic inflammation down.

He explains that when one is sick, they have cellular damage, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, smoking, pollution, disease, and the body becomes inflamed. And so anti-inflammatory foods, including watermelon, can help with overall immunity and general health. 

Mfiteyesu says watermelons help with overall hydration. One can get 20 to 30 per cent of the fluid needed through watermelon alone; he says foods like these certainly help and that their juice is full of good electrolytes, which can help prevent stroke. 
 
Meanwhile, she points out that watermelon contains fibre which encourages a healthy digestive tract and helps keep you regular. So, for people with digestion problems, the fruit will work wonders.

Musengimana says vitamin A found in watermelon is good for one’s skin.

He says that vitamin A helps keep skin and hair moisturised, and because of its vitamin C presence, watermelon, when consumed, helps promote healthy collagen growth and elastin cells.

Private Kamanzi, a dietician and nutritionist, says for people who carry out intensive sports before a workout, consuming watermelon helps reduce muscle soreness the next day.

This, he says, is attributed to watermelon’s amino acids, citrulline and arginine, which help improve circulation.

Like other fruits and vegetables, Kamanzi says watermelon may be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer through its antioxidant properties.

He explains that lycopene, in particular, has been linked to reducing prostate cancer cell proliferation, according to the National Cancer Institute.

If eaten in reasonable amounts, he says, watermelon should produce no serious side effects. If you eat an abundance of the fruit daily, however, you may experience problems from having too much lycopene or potassium.

Also, he notes that lycopene is found in several parts of the eye where it helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.

“It may also, prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults,” Kamanzi says. 

Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.

In general, he says, lycopene may help keep eyes healthy and protect against age-related macular degeneration because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com