Submitted to: International Symposium on Cucurbits Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2005
Publication Date: August 31, 2005
Citation: Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2005. Watermelons and human health [abstract]. 3rd International Cucurbit Symposium. p. 66.
National and global health concerns have led to new interest in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Until recently, watermelons were considered little more than a dessert fruit. While watermelons have always been good source of vitamins A, B, and C, red fleshed melons also contain large amounts of lycopene (40 to 120 ug/g). This red pigment has powerful antioxidant properties, and natural sources appear to be effective in helping prevent prostate cancer. Unlike fresh tomatoes, the lycopene from watermelon is bioavailable without heating. Watermelons also contain a range of amino acids, including citrulline, which is found in all parts of the fruit, and metabolized into arginine by humans. Synthetic citrulline and arginine have been found to be effective vasodilators, alleviating sickle cell anemia and erectile dysfunction, and with possible applications in heart health. Watermelons may play an important part in decreasing the incidence of certain cancers, cardiovascular problems, and other aging diseases.