Summer’s almost here, and there are few foods more cooling and refreshing than a melon. Melons come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, but they are all nutritious and tasty. The king of melons appears to be the most popular: Watermelon. Below I have listed the many benefits of watermelon, but we’ll discuss the health benefits of another melon as well.
Watermelon Health Benefits
- Improves heart health
- Fights inflammation
- May protect the prostate gland
- Helps prevent dehydration
- Lowers body temperature
There has been inconsistent research studies regarding lycopene’s affect on age-related eye disease, cataracts and asthma. However, “Early research shows that taking lycopene can slow the progression of prostate enlargement [(benign prostatic hypertrophy)] and can improve symptoms in people with this condition.”1 According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, a 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 15 to 20 mg of lycopene. But one can maximize their lycopene intake by letting their watermelon fully ripen before eating.
Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine. Research studies have shown that citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract “lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress in obese study participants.”2 Citrulline is also believed to improve protein synthesis (muscle building), reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, increase nitric oxide and enhance immunity. Arginine is famous for its blood-vessel-dilating effects “which can be effective in improving a number of heart-related conditions. High blood pressure, chest pain and coronary heart disease have been treated with L-arginine, according to MedlinePlus. L-arginine is also used to treat male infertility and erectile dysfunction. Benefits of taking L-arginine for healthy people include its potential to improve circulation and stimulate the release of growth hormone.”3
Watermelons, regardless of variety (there are upwards of 300), earned their name by being composed mostly of water – approximately 92%. Obviously, this makes watermelons very hydrating. And, on a hot day, all that H2O helps the body cool off and stay cool, especially if you refrigerate your fruit before eating it.
Other melons share many of the same diverse nutrients and health benefits. Cantaloupes, like watermelons, fight inflammation and the heart disease that may result, with their antioxidant content. Other cantaloupe benefits include...
Cantaloupe Health Benefits
- Huge amounts of Vitamin C
- Decreases risk of metabolic syndrome
- Helps to protect vision
A one cup serving of Cantaloupes contains 78% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. It also contains impressive amounts of vitamin A / beta-carotene (30% of RDA) and potassium (12% of RDA), all of which are antioxidants. Antioxidants fight inflammation by neutralizing the free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
Recent studies have also discovered that cantaloupes lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In one study, with “hundreds of women living and teaching in Tehran, Iran, the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome was found to occur in women who ate the greatest amount of [fruits]”4, including cantaloupe. High intake of fruit meant 12 ounces of all five fruits used in the study.
Cantaloupes contains both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, but also their derivative nutrients: lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin, as well as luteolin. All of these nutrients have been shown in multiple studies to not only act as antioxidants, but protect one’s vision from ailments like macular degeneration and other age-related eye diseases.
There are hundreds of other melons out there, but there are no real studies and nutritional data on most of them. Watermelon and cantaloupes are the best documented melons for health. But you should seek out some of the less famous varieties and give them a try. As you can see, from watermelon and cantaloupes, melons tend to share certain nutritional attributes yet, they also contain nutrients that the others do not. For example, the rind of the watermelon is edible. This is not the case with cantaloupes. In addition, the rind contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh of the watermelon. The rind is also rich in chlorophyll, another healthful nutrient that can neutralize body odor. Not kidding.
There’s just one caveat when it comes to eating melons, according to Dr. Wayne Pickering, “Eat melon alone or leave it alone because it will make your stomach groan. So ideally, no food 30 minutes before or after eating melons.”2 Eating melons with other foods has resulted in severe stomach discomfort for me, on more than one occasion, but your experiences may differ.
A guest blog from holistic writer Andrea Lewis.
1 “Lycopene: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings”. WebMD, n.d. Web. April 2016
2 Mercola, Joseph, MD. “6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon”. Mercola, July 21, 2014. Web. April 2016
3 McNight, Clay. “Benefits of L-Arginine and L-Citrulline”. Livestrong, June 22, 2015. Web. April 2016
4 “Cantaloupe”. The World’s Healthiest Foods, n.d. Web. April 2016
Szalay, Jessie. “Watermelon: Health Benefits, Risk & Nutrition Facts”. Livescience, October 7, 2014. Web. April 2016