How Many Calories Are in Watermelon

There’s nothing like biting into a sweet and juicy watermelon on a hot summer day. But watermelons are more than just a sweet summer treat. Watermelon is full of nutrients that your body needs all year round!

True to their name, watermelons are rich in water and hydrating electrolytes. They also contain the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to heart health. They even have some protein and a noteworthy amino acid that might reduce muscle soreness.

While it may be hard to find watermelon in the colder months, there are many reasons you should stock a freezer full of the juicy melon and eat it all year round.

Fresh ripe watermelon slices on wooden table. (Getty Images stock)
Fresh ripe watermelon slices on wooden table. (Getty Images stock)

 

Watermelon Nutrition Facts

One cup of watermelon has:

  • 46 calories

  • 1 gram protein

  • 0 grams fat

  • 12 grams carbohydrates

  • 1 gram fiber

  • 12 milligrams Vitamin C (13% daily value (DV))

The health benefits of eating watermelon

One of the most beneficial properties of watermelon is not listed on most food labels — it has more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that has been studied for its role in lowering blood pressure, preventing certain types of cancer and contributing to glowing skin.

A meta-analyses of current research found that supplementing your diet with 12 milligrams of lycopene per day may reduce systolic blood pressure. While there’s no recommended daily value for lycopene — that's why it's not on food labels — a 2-cup serving of watermelon has 12.7 milligrams of lycopene, the amount found to be ideal. Moreover, a randomized controlled trial of 40 participants with prehypertension and hypertension showed that taking a watermelon substitute extract for six weeks reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Due to its ability to fight inflammation, a marker of cancer, lycopene has also been examined for its role in reducing cancer risk. The research in this field is limited, but observational studies have found a link between higher lycopene circulating in the blood and lower incidences of prostate cancer.

Another observational study of over 80,000 women found an inverse association between lycopene intake and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. While the National Cancer Institute acknowledges this field of study is promising, there isn’t enough current research to determine whether lycopene can prevent or treat prostate cancer.

Lastly, you may notice that lycopene is an ingredient in your favorite skin cream, and that’s no coincidence. Research suggests this antioxidant may protect the skin from harmful UV light.

Looking beyond lycopene, watermelon has another benefit that in its name — it’s made up of 92% water. Water is essential for life and plays a key role in many bodily processes, like temperature regulation and organ function. Eating watermelon can contribute to overall hydration. Watermelon is also a top-notch snack for athletes, since it has carbohydrates for energy, as well as potassium, an important electrolyte lost in sweat.

Are there drawbacks to eating watermelon?

Watermelon is nutritious and safe to consume for most people. However, it’s high in fructose, a sugar that triggers gastrointestinal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This juicy melon is on the high FODMAP list, so it might be best to avoid it if you are living with IBS.

Overhead view of glasses with watermelon juice, under hard light. Studio shot. (Flavia Morlachetti / Getty Images stock)
Overhead view of glasses with watermelon juice, under hard light. Studio shot. (Flavia Morlachetti / Getty Images stock)

Fun facts about watermelon

In case all the lycopene isn't enough to convince you, these are so many more reasons to add watermelon to your grocery list.

Watermelon juice may reduce muscle soreness

One hundred percent watermelon juice contains copious amounts of the amino acid l-citrulline, which is being studied for its ability to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. A small study of seven athletes who supplemented with watermelon juice found that it decreased their muscle soreness and lowered their recovery heart rate for the 24 hours following a workout. A recent meta-analysis suggests that l-citrulline also increases blood levels of nitric oxide — a vasodilator that helps the working muscles get oxygen faster and reduces time to fatigue. The study authors also state that ingesting l-citrulline one hour before exercise reduces perceived effort and muscle soreness.

You can eat the rind

There’s no need to toss the juicy melon’s vibrant green rind. Believe it or not, the watermelon rind is 100% edible. It doesn’t have the same sweet taste as the pink melon, but it goes really well in savory dishes. Cut off the outer tough green skin and set aside the white part of the melon. Use it to make pickles, throw it into a stir fry or soup or roast it with other vegetables.

A yellow spot means it’s ripe

Since most watermelons look and feel similar on the outside, it’s difficult to tell which one is ripe. Your best bet is to look for a yellow spot among the green skin. This is also known as the “ground spot” or the part of the watermelon that sat on the ground while the fruit ripened in the sun. You can also hold two similar size watermelons and see which feels heavier. Since the watermelon is mostly water, the one that feels heavier is ripest.

Pearl Couscous Watermelon Salad with Herb Vinagrette (Courtesy Will Coleman)
Pearl Couscous Watermelon Salad with Herb Vinagrette (Courtesy Will Coleman)

Healthy watermelon recipes

The mouthwatering juicy summer fruit adds a brightness to basically any dish. Here are some simple sweet and savory ways to use watermelon.

Savory: Have a meat-free sushi night with this Sesame-Lime Watermelon ‘Poke’ Bowl Recipe. Brighten up any summertime gathering with these simple side salads: Tomato and Watermelon Salad Recipe, Summertime Watermelon and Tomatillo Salad Recipe or Pearl Couscous Watermelon Salad with Herb Vinaigrette. Cool down with a Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe or impress guests with this elegant Watermelon Caprese Recipe.

Watermelon Dessert 'Pizza' (Courtesy Anna Helm Baxter)
Watermelon Dessert 'Pizza' (Courtesy Anna Helm Baxter)

 

Sweet: With its high water content, watermelon blends into a delicious juice for cocktails. Add it to Watermelon Rum Punch Recipe or Frozen Watermelon Mojito Recipe. You can even soak watermelon slices in tequila to make this Boozy Watermelon Popsicles Recipe. These easy desserts are crowd pleasers among kids and adults: Watermelon Dessert ‘Pizza’ Recipe and Watermelon Rosé Granita (Slushie) Recipe.

 

This article was originally published on TODAY.com