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The Health Risk of Watermelon
If eaten in reasonable amounts, watermelons should produce no serious side effects. If you eat an abundance of the fruit daily, however, you may experience problems from having too much lycopene or potassium.
The consumption of more than 30 mg of lycopene daily could potentially cause nausea, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating, according to the American Cancer Society. People with serious hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in their blood, should probably not consume more than about one cup of watermelon a day, which has less than 140 mg of potassium. According to the National Institutes of Health , hyperkalemia can result in irregular heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems, as well as reduced muscle control.
Loading up on water-dense foods like watermelon can be tempting for those looking to lose weight because they help you feel full, but Lemond cautions against going to extremes. "Eating more fruits and vegetables of any kind naturally helps decrease overall calories (energy) of the diet," she said. "We know that people that eat higher quantities of fruits and vegetables typically have healthier body weights However, I do not recommend eating only watermelon … You will lose weight, but that weight will be mostly muscle."
Jarzabkowski also warned watermelon lovers to be mindful of their sugar intake. "Though watermelon's sugar is naturally occurring, watermelon is still relatively high in sugar."
"My recommendation is always to vary your selections," said Lemond. "Watermelon is a great hydrating food, so keep it in along with other plant foods that offer other benefits. Variety is always key."
Some fun facts about watermelons, from the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Science Kids:
The watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. The watermelon probably originated in the Kalahari Desert in Africa. The Egyptians placed watermelons in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. The first recorded watermelon harvest is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics from about 5,000 years ago. Merchants spread the use of watermelons along the Mediterranean Sea. By the 10th century, watermelons had found their way to China, which is now the world's top producer of watermelons.
The Moors in the 13th century brought watermelons to Europe.
The watermelon likely made its way to the United States with African slaves. Early explorers used watermelons as canteens. The first cookbook published in the United States in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles. About 200 to 300 varieties are grown in the United States and Mexico, but only about 50 varieties are very popular.
By weight, watermelon is the most consumed melon in the United States, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
The watermelon is the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.
All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, even the rind. Guinness World Records says the world's heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2005. It weighed 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg). The United States ranks fifth in the worldwide production of watermelons. Forty-four states grow watermelons, with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona leading the country in production.
A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.
Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that's also good for you.
It contains only 46 calories per cup, but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds.