Both watermelon and melon are peponids. It is among the peponids (squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc.) that we find the largest fruits of the plant kingdom. Water represents 92% to 95% of its weight hence its name of watermelon. It is moderately caloric. Watermelon is believed to have originated in southern Africa. Some argue that watermelon probably comes from the Kalahari Desert. The first cultures probably date back to ancient Egypt.
In hot countries, it plays a leading role when water runs out or is polluted. In the wild, the fruits are bitter. On the other hand, the work of cultivar selection carried out by man for millennia has made it possible to obtain the taste that we know him today. About 200-300 varieties are grown in the United States and Mexico, but only about 50 varieties are very popular. It is grown mainly in warm countries but some varieties grow in a temperate climate. This explains why it is grown even in Quebec.
For the year 2014, world production was 111 million tons, with China alone producing 67% of the total. Turkey, Iran, Brazil and the United States followed with less than 4% each.
Its phytonutrients and vitamins
The glycemic load and antioxidant capacity of watermelon are considered low. However, some of its antioxidants are very important for humans and concentrated enough to make it a must-have fruit.
The main antioxidant compounds in watermelon are carotenoids, especially lycopene and in smaller quantities, beta-carotene. Citrulline is also one of its major antioxidants. Once citrulline is transformed into argine, an essential amino acid, it plays a significant role on the immune and cardiovascular systems. In addition, it would have beneficial effects on the health of blood vessels.
Like all other fruits and vegetables, the antioxidants in watermelon can help prevent cancer diseases. Its lycophene in particular is linked to the reduction of the proliferation of prostate cancer cells.
Watermelon’s high concentration of lycopene makes its consumption effective in protecting cells from free radical damage and can thus help reduce the risk of heart disease. Arginine can help improve blood circulation and reduce hypertension.
The lycopene in watermelon is an inhibitor of various inflammatory processes and also acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Watermelon also contains choline, which helps keep chronic inflammation down.
Watermelon contains fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system.
Skin and hair
The vitamin A contained in the fruit helps keep the skin and hair hydrated. In addition, it also helps the healthy growth of new collagen and elastin cells. The vitamin C it contains is also beneficial in this regard.
Researchers at the Texas Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center (USA) have just demonstrated that citrulline, an amino acid present in watermelon, would have, in men, the same effect as Viagra. It would promote the dilation of blood vessels, which helps erectile function.
However, it would be necessary to eat the equivalent of about 1.5 liters of this fruit to feel the benefits,which has above all a diuretic effect.
Health warnings and risks
If eaten in reasonable quantities, watermelons should not produce serious side effects. Big lovers of watermelon and other fruits should avoid having too much lycopene or potassium. According to the American Cancer Society, consuming more than 30 mg of lycopene per day could potentially cause diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, and nausea.
According to the National Institutes of Health, people with severe hyperkalemia or with too much potassium in their blood probably should not consume more than about one cup of watermelon per day (less than 140 mg of potassium). Hyperkalemia can lead to irregular heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems, as well as reduced muscle control.