You Can Eat the Whole Watermelon

You Can Eat the Whole Watermelon
Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.

Watermelon gives you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck in the produce section. Where a third or more of the weight of other fruits, from bananas and oranges to mangos and avocados, is tossed with the peels and seeds, every bit of a watermelon is edible. Here’s the scoop on why and how you can eat everything, from the inside out, of this delicious fruit.

The Pulp: A Nutritional Goldmine

As if the chin-dribbling sweetness of watermelon isn’t enough, this fruit also packs a mighty health punch. It is cholesterol-free, fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient that helps maintain connective tissues, promotes wound healing, and supports immune health. The vitamin A in watermelon is important for eye health. Watermelon is a source of other nutrients, too, from potassium and vitamins B1 and B6 to magnesium. It also contains phytonutrients, such as triterpenoids, that reduce inflammation. (13) But, its biggest claim to fame is lycopene.
Watermelon gets its rich red hue from lycopene. In fact, watermelon is the lycopene leader in the produce department, outshining even tomatoes by supplying 15 to 20 milligrams of lycopene for every two cups of fruit. Lycopene is a phytonutrient that is associated with benefits to heart health and possibly lowering cancer risk and protecting the skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. (1-7,14)
If all that wasn’t enough, watermelon is very low in calories, supplying only 46 calories per cup. Its fiber and high water content help fill you up on few calories, so this fruit is an excellent addition to any weight-management plan. It also is a great hydrator, since it is 92% water. A big slice of watermelon is like drinking a glass of water, but much tastier!
Eat watermelon plain or add this versatile fruit to salads, salsas, desserts, side dishes, and sandwiches. Juice it and add to sauces, dressings, smoothies, beverages, and as a replacement for water or other liquids in cooking oatmeal, rice, and other grains.

The Seeds: A Crunchy Snack

If you toss the seeds, you’re missing out on a nutritious, tasty snack. Like most seeds, watermelon seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, and phytonutrients like phenolic compounds. Rinse the seeds well, toss with a bit of salt and oil, and roast until crisp. Then sprinkle on cereal, add to muffin or cookie batters, or just eat plain.(8)

The Rind: Your Heart’s Best Friend

Hollowed out, watermelon rinds make attractive containers for serving cold fruit soups, fruit salads, bowls, and beverages. Add a spout and you transform the rind into a fun server of party libations, from lemonade to margaritas. The rind is more than a pretty face. It also is edible and a good source of a compound called citrulline. This amino acid raises levels of arginine in the blood, which in turn helps maintain blood flow, healthy blood vessels, and heart health. (9-12) Use the rind to make pickles and relishes, grate into salads and slaws, toss into stir frys, and add to smoothies and juice.


1. Story E, Kopec R, Schwartz S, et al: An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology 2010;1: 189-210.

2. Rizwan M, Rodriquez-Bloanco I, Harbottle A, et al: Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo. British Journal of Dermatology 2011;164;154-162.

3. O’Kennedy N, Crosbie L, Whelan S, et al: Effects of tomato extract on platelet function. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006;84:561-569.

4. Biddle M, Moser D, Song E, et al: Higher dietary lycopene intake is associated with longer cardiac 3event-free survival in patients with heart failure. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 2013;12:377-384.

5. Karppi J, Kurl S, Ronkainen K, et al: Serum carotenoids reduce progression of early atherosclerosis in the carotid artery wall among Eastern Finnish men. PLoS One 2013;8:e64107.

6. Jacques P, Lyass A, Massaro J, et al: Relationship of lycopene intake and consumption of tomato products to incident CVD. British Journal of Nutrition 2013;110:545-551.

7. Stahl W, Sies H: Beta carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012;96:1179S-1184S.

8. Patel S, Rauf A: Edible seeds from cucurbitaceae family as potential functional foods. Biomedical Pharmacotherapy 2017;91:330-337.

9. Balderas-Munoz K, Cstillo-Martinez L, Orea-Tejeda A, et al: Improvement of ventricular function in systolic heart failure patients with oral L-citrulline supplementation. Cardiology Journal 2012;19:612-617.

10. Tarazona-Diaz M, Viegas J, Moldao-Martins M, et al: Bioactive compounds from flesh and by-product of fresh-cut watermelon cultivars. Journal of Science, Food and Agriculture 2011;91:805-812.

11. Patra J, Das G, Baek K: Phyto-mediated biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using the rind extract of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) under photo-catalyzed condition and investigation of its antibacterial, anticandidal and antioxidant efficacy. Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology 2016;161:200-210.

12. Rimando A, Perkins-Veazie P: Determination of citrulline in watermelon rind. Journal of Chromatography2005;1078:196-200.

13. Venkatesha S, Dudics S, Astry B, et al: Control of autoimmune inflammation by celastrol, a natural triterpenoid. Pathogens and Disease 2016;74(6).

14. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Lycopene.
 Comments  1    Add a Comment

Hi, this is Paulo from Brazil, I saw these web site during my normal surfing on the internet, I decided stop and read a bit, ual, I was born and raised in a small farm here in my country, and I never imagined how great watermelon is for our health. I read almost the complete publication throughout these site.
May I have a question, should people have meeting on skype or something like that like seminars to share information and change ideas cover out the watermelon topic for humans health?

Best Regards

Hi Paulo,
Yes watermelon is wonderful for our health! At this time we do not have plans to host a webinar or other public forum on watermelon and human health, but it is great idea to explore. Thank you!

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