We know watermelons are healthy for us. They help keep our kidneys in good shape, they hydrate us, they make a sweet, refreshing snack and they are a rich source of lycopene, a natural substance with wonderful heart protective and antioxidant properties. But what about watermelon seeds? Are they any good for us? Should we eat them on purpose or not? The truth is that watermelon seeds are beneficial for us, contributing to good energy levels, nervous system and brain health, regulating blood pressure and offering antioxidant protection.
What do watermelon seeds look like?
Watermelon seeds are small, flat, oval-shaped seeds with a pointy end. As the fruit matures, the milky white seeds turn brown, then black and develop a hard outer shell which can be cracked using one’s teeth. As a child, I used to pick each and every one of those tiny black seeds and throw them away. When I grew older however, I started enjoying them for their benefits.
While ingesting a great amount of watermelon seeds is not something one should do, enjoying them in moderate to small amounts occasionally holds great benefits for one’s health, say experts, as a result of the seeds having a good B vitamins and minerals content, as well as antioxidant and energizing effects. And while they are not as meaty as sunflower seeds or have pleasant nutty flavors, or even a decidedly nutty taste like peanuts or walnuts, there are beneficial health effects to eating watermelon seeds. See below my list of the most noteworthy 5 nutrition facts and health benefits of watermelon seeds.
What are the benefits?
Antioxidants protect cells and DNA against reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals, preventing cell and DNA damage buildup that may lead to potentially cancerous mutations. Antioxidants also prevent excessive inflammation at cell level which has been discovered to encourage the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, degenerative nerve diseases, diabetes and others.
Improved blood circulation
Watermelon seeds contain 3.55 mg of vitamin B3 or niacin (per 100 g of seeds). Niacin has been shown to improve blood circulation and thus contribute to cardiovascular and nervous system health. Niacin is a perfect example of how important B vitamins in general are for nervous system and brain health. A deficiency causes symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, even depression, poor blood circulation and digestive upset.
Regulate body fluids and blood pressure
Watermelon seeds are a generous source of dietary potassium (648 mg), a mineral that regulates fluid levels in the body, preventing water retention that contributes to elevated blood pressure levels. Having enough potassium is also essential for good blood pressure levels because it neutralizes the negative effects of too much sodium from a high salt intake. According to a recent study conducted by the Cambridge Sacred Heart University, watermelon seeds are shown to significantly lower systolic blood pressure. Apparently, this contributes to a lower risk of myocardial infarction in individuals suffering from coronary atherosclerosis and angina.
Benefits for fatigue
Watermelon seeds combat and relieve fatigue by contributing to red blood cell production and by helping hemoglobin in red blood cells bind to oxygen better. This is done with the help of iron and B vitamins such as vitamin B6 and vitamin B9 whose main function is to help with the production of red blood cells which transport oxygen in hemoglobin from the lungs to the rest of the body, oxygenating tissues. At the same time watermelon seeds are a great source of other essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, in addition to folate and vitamin B6, all of which improve energy levels and help combat fatigue by helping the body function well.
Benefits for burns healing
Studies show chemicals occurring naturally in watermelon seeds can accelerate burn healing by preventing the formation of a thick scar (source: Effectivity of watermelon (Citrullus Lanatus) seeds extract on inducible nitric oxide synthase).
Potential side effects of watermelon seeds
If you are in the habit of eating watermelon seeds together with the fruit, you should be careful not to accidentally choke on them. Not only are they small, but they are also extremely slippery so, unless you want one or more to go down the wind pipe, remove them from the fruit and then eat them. Alternatively, you can buy watermelon seed kernels which are already shelled and, sometimes, even roasted. But why waste good seeds you already have? Save the seeds from your watermelon, clean any remaining pulp or juice, dry for 2-3 days in a cool place and enjoy them.
If you are not looking forward to somewhat unexpected and urgent trips to the bathroom, it’s best to simply avoid watermelon seeds. Also, it might be a good idea to eat just the inside of watermelon seeds, without the hard, black shell. The black outer shell is a rather tough fiber and may cause intestinal blockage in some instances (although it’s a rare occurrence). The immature, creamy white, soft watermelon seeds do not pose this risk as they are digested better. Just as important, being a good source of dietary fiber, the immature seeds help increase bowel movement frequency and relive constipation.
It’s possible you may have noticed that, if you accidentally eat more mature watermelon seeds or swallow them whole, they come out just as they came in. The black outer shell being tough and fibrous, it doesn’t always get digested, hence why it comes out just as it goes in. The same thing goes for corn: if you’ve ever wonder why corn comes out whole, know it does not always digest due to containing rough fiber material.
Overall, watermelon seeds and even just the creamy white kernels are surprisingly healthy. But have you ever wondered why there are increasingly more seedless fruits, watermelons and bananas included? Is it just to make farmers as poor as church mice by making them rely on yearly seed purchases, make it harder or less convenient for us to grow our own food, possibly with better results leading to improved nutritional status? Depending on the fruit, seeds in general concentrate impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals and seedless watermelons are simply missing an edible and surprisingly nutritious component.