Nothing says summer quite like a big juicy, bright-red slice of watermelon. Biting into the refreshingly succulent goodness of this chilled fruit on a hot summer day can transport you to a pleasant retreat, even if it’s only for a minute.
No beach-side family picnic is complete without packing a generous supply of this sweet-tasting heavenly treat. What does, however, dim the glory of watermelons in the eyes of a great many sworn admirers is the pesky seed that comes in the way of enjoying its delectable pulp.
In order to deal with this singular downside, people often resort to painstakingly picking out the seeds while cutting up a watermelon for a fruit salad, or spitting them out incessantly while munching on a slice of watermelon. Nowadays, you can even buy a seedless watermelon to make life easier.
Frown on watermelon seeds as much as you want, but you wouldn’t be so fussy about eating them once you get a load of their undeniable whole-body health benefits. Dried and roasted watermelon seeds are perfectly edible and are prized for their high nutritional value among health circles.
Watermelon seeds make a great snack when they have been dried and roasted and can easily take the place of other unhealthy snack options.
Nutritional Value of Watermelon
The important nutritional components of watermelon seeds are protein, several B and other vitamins, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, copper, manganese, and zinc. Another factor that endears watermelon seeds to health experts is the fact that they are low in calories and replete with healthy unsaturated fats.(23)
Nutritional value of watermelon seeds per 100 grams:
- Water – 5.05 g
- Energy – 557 kcal
- Protein – 28.33 g
- Total lipid – 47.37 g
- Carbohydrate – 15.31 g
- Calcium, Ca – 54 mg
- Iron, Fe – 7.28 mg
- Magnesium, Mg –515 mg
- Phosphorus, P – 755 mg
- Potassium, K – 648 mg
- Sodium, Na – 99 mg
- Zinc, Zn – 10.24 mg
- Niacin – 3.55 mg
- Folate – 58 mcg
- Thiamin –0.190 mg
How to Make Roasted Watermelon Seeds
Most people do not like the taste or texture of raw watermelon seeds, but they are likely to change their mind once they get a taste of dry-roasted watermelon seeds. Here’s how you can whip up this perfectly healthy crispy brown munchie:
- Thoroughly rinse and dry the seeds.
- Soak the seeds in water overnight.
- Wait for a few days until they sprout.
- Remove the tougher outer black shell from the seeds, and then dry the seeds in an oven or simply under the sun.
- Spread the seeds out on a roasting pan.
- Drizzle a small amount of vegetable or olive oil over them and sprinkle a little sea salt.
- Roast them at 325°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Allow the roasted watermelon seeds to cool before enjoying them as a healthy snack.
You can sprinkle a little cinnamon powder or a mix of lemon juice and chili powder over the roasted seeds to make them extra-flavorsome.
A handful of these seeds is just what you need to add some crunch to your salads. Similarly, a generous sprinkling of roasted watermelon seeds in your homemade smoothies can give them added texture and a rich flavor.
If you prefer to buy store-packed roasted watermelon seeds, make sure to check the nutritional label first.
Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds
Here are 10 reasons to try watermelon seeds.
1. Aids in Diabetes Management
When incorporated in an overall well-balanced diet, watermelon seeds may prove helpful in managing diabetes and preventing related complications. Due to their high fiber content, the seeds can help in blood sugar control and promote weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.
The seeds contain an amino acid that serves to relax and dilate the blood vessels and thereby may help reduce inflammation.
Also, the magnesium component of watermelon seeds helps regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, which can impact blood sugar levels.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management found that watermelon seed extract may be a supportive treatment to combat diabetes complications.
Reap these bounteous benefits by boiling watermelon seeds to make watermelon tea.
- Put a handful of watermelon seeds in 4 cups of water.
- Boil it for 45 minutes, keeping the pot covered.
- Allow it to cool.
- Drink this concoction regularly like tea.
2. Fights Fatigue
Eating a handful of watermelon seeds may help fight fatigue by boosting your energy levels.
The seeds are rich in iron, an important component of hemoglobin that helps transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Iron also assists your body with the conversion of calories into energy and helps in nourishing your immune system.
Additionally, watermelon seeds contain an amino acid called L-citrulline, which may help reduce muscular fatigue.
3. Keeps the Heart Healthy
When combined with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, consuming watermelon seeds can also help ensure that your heart remains in good condition.
In addition, the seeds contain a good amount of potassium that helps combat heart disease and keeps your heart healthy. Plus, the amino acids citrulline and arginine provided by the seeds help maintain healthy arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular functioning.
4. Keeps Blood Pressure under Control
Watermelon seeds are very high in protein that consists of several amino acids. One of the amino acids is arginine. While the body produces some arginine, consuming additional arginine through your diet helps regulate blood pressure and may reduce complications of coronary heart disease.
The magnesium in watermelon seeds may also help regulate blood pressure. In fact, some studies have found an association between a low level of magnesium in the body and higher blood pressure.
Low magnesium can also contribute to a lower potassium level, which is an important nutrient for keeping your blood pressure under control.
5. Keeps Muscles Healthy
Watermelon seeds are very effective in improving your muscle health and preventing muscle soreness after your workout.
First of all, watermelon seeds are one of the few food sources that contain L-citrulline, a nutrient important for tissue repair and athletic performance. It is thought that L-citrulline helps to smooth muscle relaxation, enhances anaerobic performance, and relieves muscle soreness or fatigue.
Also, the magnesium in these tiny seeds is important for muscle health. Magnesium plays a role in energy metabolism and muscle function and may help improve exercise performance.
6. Reduces Body Fat
Watermelon seeds are rich in a compound called citrulline, which metabolizes into the essential amino acid arginine. Arginine may help reduce the rate at which the body stores fat.
The seeds are also low in calories, making them quite compatible with your weight loss diet. They do contain a little fat, but it is healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Thus, incorporating roasted watermelon seeds as a healthy snack can help control your body fat when combined with other healthy lifestyle changes.
Be mindful that 1 ounce of watermelon seeds contain approximately 158 calories. Although an ounce contains about 400 seeds, it’s unlikely that you’ll eat that much in one sitting.
7. Improves Brain Functioning
Watermelon seeds are a good source of folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9. Folate is important for proper brain functioning. In fact, pregnant women should ensure proper folate intake, as its deficiency has been associated with certain neural tubal birth defects.
It is also thought that the healthy fatty acids that can be found in the seeds boost the functioning of neurotransmitters, which in turn improves memory and cognitive skills.
Also, the potassium in the seeds may help improve thinking and recall capacity for people with memory impairments. In addition, being packed with antioxidants, the tiny seeds also protect the brain cells from free-radical damage.
8. Prevents Eye Problems
These tiny seeds are good for your vision and can reduce the risk of premature eye degeneration and other eye diseases.
The vitamin A in the seeds is particularly good for your eyes. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin A is linked to macular degeneration.
9. Improves Hair Health
Hair is mostly made up of protein, and thus protein deficiency, although uncommon in developed countries, can have a negative impact on hair growth.
As watermelon seeds contain a notable amount of protein, eating them can play a role in preventing protein malnutrition or compensate for any kind of existing protein deficiency.
Also, the high iron content in the seeds helps reduce the risk of iron deficiency, which may be a cause of hair loss. Eating enough iron can help prevent your hair from becoming thin, dry, and dull.
On top of that, roasted seeds contain copper, which is needed for the body to produce melanin, a pigment that gives color to your hair.
Aside from eating watermelon seeds, you can also use watermelon seed oil to improve your hair health. As the oil is easily absorbed by your scalp, it is said to help treat an itchy scalp and ensure healthy hair growth, although further research is needed to conclusively prove these claims.
10. Makes Skin Glow
Watermelon seeds can also help keep your skin glowing and beautiful for years to come.
The vitamin C in the seeds works as a powerful antioxidant to keep your skin protected from free-radical damage, which is at the root of premature skin aging. Vitamin C also induces the production of collagen, which is important for keeping your skin smooth, supple, and healthy.
Furthermore, the tiny seeds are rich in fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleum acid, which help keep your skin moisturized. Although watermelon seed oil is likely suitable for all skin types, it is especially effective for people with dry skin.
All you need to do to optimize the skin-enhancing prowess of watermelon seeds is massage your skin with its oil daily before taking a shower.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Christen Miller (RDN)
What are the health benefits of eating watermelon seeds?
Watermelon is an amazing fruit. It is best known for its hydrating properties, low caloric content, chock-full of vitamins and minerals, and even antioxidants, like lycopene.
What about watermelon seeds? This portion of the watermelon is often removed prior to or spit out during consumption. It almost as if the seed is a useless appendage of the fruit itself.
Watermelon seeds, however, are just as nourishing as the melon that hosts them. They definitely deserve credit for being compact, nutritional powerhouses. Watermelon seeds contain a plethora of nutrients including vitamins A & C, fiber, mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega 6 fats, magnesium, iron, folate, phosphorus, zinc, and flavonoids (a type of phytochemical).
The bulk of these nutrients are found in the mature seeds, which have a thicker, and sometimes darker outer layer, in contrast to the thin immature white seeds found in the watermelon.
1 oz. of mature watermelon seeds (roughly 1/8 of a cup), for example, contains 10 grams of protein, 160 calories, 11 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates.
Is it safe to eat watermelon seeds directly from the fruit?
Watermelon seeds are safe for human consumption, directly from the watermelon itself. The seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide that does not affect humans but can be toxic to a pet cat’s more sensitive digestive tract. Watermelon seeds can also be cracked, similar to a sunflower seed, to access the nutrient dense kernels inside.
In fact, sprouting the watermelon seed is an excellent way to obtain an additional dose of vitamins, minerals, and other valuable nutrients that the watermelon seeds possess.
Should pregnant women consume watermelon seeds?
Watermelon seeds are safe for consumption by the general public, as well as pregnant women. They possess many nutrients that are beneficial to both the mother and the baby including, (but not limited to) potassium (promotes healthy organ function), copper (bone and brain health, etc.), selenium (cognitive function and fertility), and zinc (protein synthesis, cell production, etc.).
Furthermore, watermelon seeds may help reduce hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.
Do watermelon seeds help you lose weight?
Watermelon seeds can be a great alternative to a less healthy food choice. Various portion sizes contain a variety of macro and micronutrients; 4 grams of these seeds contain 21mg of magnesium (of the 400mg FDA daily requirement for adults), while a handful contains 0.29 mg of iron (of the 18mg FDA daily requirement for adults).
However, one must still be cautious about consuming large amounts of watermelon seeds, as they are also calorically dense.
1 cup of seeds is approximately 602 calories, and 51 grams of fat. Although much of this fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind, eating a cup or more of watermelon seeds regularly may potentially lead to weight gain.
As with most foods, moderation is the key, particularly when it comes to trying to lose weight, and/or to maintain a healthy weight.
Tips for incorporating watermelon seeds into one’s daily diet
Watermelon seeds can fit into one’s daily diet, in numerous ways. Allowing the seeds to sprout before consumption provides access to more nutrients. Other options include incorporating them into salads, adding them in crushed or powdered form to smoothies, cooking foods with the seed oil, or even roasting them with seasonings of your choice and eating them as a snack.
Watermelon seeds are an excellent option that should be included in healthy eating plans like any other seed. Never again should these nutritious nuggets be simply spit out or discarded from their original fruit.
About Christen Miller, RDN: Ms. Miller is a registered dietitian who resides in Atlanta, GA, with Certificates of Training in both Adult Weight Management and Child and Adolescent Weight Management. Christen is also a Trained Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program and a Certified Chronic Care Provider.
Her professional experience is primarily in adult nutrition; particularly, the areas of weight management and chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart diseases.
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