ation and oxidative damage, since it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C (1).
In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared with the control group, they developed lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and less oxidative stress (10).
In an earlier study, humans were given lycopene-rich tomato juice with added vitamin C. Overall, their markers of inflammation went down and antioxidants went up. Watermelon has both lycopene and vitamin C (11).
As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (12).
Bottom Line: Lycopene and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory antioxidants found in watermelon. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases.
6. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
Found in several parts of the eye, lycopene helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.
It may also help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults (1).
Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.
Bottom Line: Lycopene may help keep eyes healthy and protect against AMD through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.
7. May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness
Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness.
Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to enhance the bio-availability of citrulline.
One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own (13).
The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline. Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it’s consumed as a component of watermelon juice.
Other research has also looked at citrulline’s potential to improve exercise endurance and performance. So far, citrulline doesn’t seem to improve exercise performance in the amounts studied, but it’s still an area of research interest (14).
Bottom Line: Watermelon juice has some potential as a recovery beverage after exercise. Citrulline may be partially responsible for its effect of easing muscle soreness.
8. Is Good for Skin and Hair
Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.
Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.
Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.
Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn (15).
Bottom Line: Several nutrients in watermelon are good for your hair and skin. Some help keep skin supple while others protect against sunburn.
9. Can Help Improve Digestion
Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.
Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently.
Eating water-rich and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, can be very helpful for promoting normal bowel movements.
Bottom Line: Fiber and water are important for healthy digestion. Watermelon contains both.
Take Home Message
Watermelon is a surprisingly healthy fruit. It has a high water content and also delivers many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C.
These nutrients mean that watermelon isn’t only a tasty low-calorie treat — it’s also very good for your health.