4. Powerful Anti-inflammatory
What has scientists so interested in the health benefits of watermelons is the fact that they have more lycopene than raw tomatoes. In reality, just 1 cup of watermelon actually has 1.5 times the lycopene content of 1 large tomato.
So, why is this so exciting? Well, lycopene is a key antioxidant. In fact, it is actually considered one of the super antioxidants that can inhibit a number of inflammatory processes, including “the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules, the expression of enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase that can lead to increased inflammatory response, and the activity of molecular signaling agents like nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB).” (12).
What does this mean for you? In layman terms, it means that lycopene can help prevent a whole host of health issues including various cancers (prostate, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, as well as esophagus, oral cavity, breast, and cervix) and cardiovascular disease (13,14). It can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure (15).
The lycopene content in watermelons increases as they ripen, so always eat melons that are a deep red and fully ripe. While there are varieties of yellow watermelons that still contain the amazing health benefits of red watermelons, the darker red melons do contain the highest amounts of lycopene.
Watermelon also contains significant amounts of beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant typically found in foods like carrots and squash. One study shows that red watermelon contains over 467 mcg of beta-carotene and 6,979 micrograms of lycopene per cup of melon. Like lycopene, the beta-carotene content increases as the watermelon ripens.
5. Improves Eye Sight
By the mere fact that watermelons contain high levels of beta-carotene, you know they are good for your eyes.
Beta carotene is converted in your body into vitamin A, which is extremely helpful for eye health. This powerful antioxidant helps to protect the surface of your eye as well as the mucous membranes from bacteria and viruses by building a protective barrier. It also protects your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and night blindness (16).
6. Raises Your pH Levels
There is an endless array of studies that prove how acidity in your body can destroy your health, wreaking havoc on every organ, tissue and cell thus leading to disease. In fact, in 1931, Otto Warburg, a German scientist, won the Nobel Prize for his work on oxidation, which showed that diseases (specifically, cancer) cannot survive in an alkaline environment (17).
Sadly, over the past decade, there has been growing concern about watermelons that are grown in China. Not surprisingly, these non-organic watermelons are associated with widespread controversy, as are many foods and products that come from this part of the world.
In particular, however, watermelons grown in China are subjected to a synthetic growth stimulator known as forchlorfenuron. This unsavory practice came to light after a combination of heavy rainfall and overuse of the growth stimulator essentially caused a number of these tainted watermelons from farms in Jiangsu Province to actually explode (18).
While you may not know until you get your watermelon home, a good indication that it, or any fruit or vegetable for that matter, has not been grown by entirely “natural means,” is its general lack of flavor. They may look beautiful, plump and even ripe, but the taste will be lacking or even non-existent.
Unfortunately, to date, “China’s Ministry of Health, which updated its food safety guidelines on April 17, didn’t include forchlorfenuron on its list of 47 illegal food additives or its list of 22 additives that are likely to be abused,” confirmed Bloomberg.
To be safe, as a general rule, it is best to simply never buy any food (including pet food) from China. Prioritize beautiful local produce. If that is not available, look for produce certified organic grown in North America.