It's juicy and delicious, but is watermelon good for your diet? According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy diet includes a variety of foods from each food group, including fruits like watermelon. A diet that consists of only watermelon isn't a healthy one, but watermelon can contribute to good health as part of a well-balanced meal plan.
Watermelon is a jackpot of nutrients, all of which play a role in your overall health. That makes watermelon a great choice as part of a varied diet.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a wedge of watermelon contains 20 milligrams of calcium, which is vital for healthy bones and for decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some other nutritional benefits of watermelon:
- Eating a wedge of watermelon also nets you 320 milligrams of potassium, which is helps balance your water levels and protects your heart, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
- You'll also get a good dose of vitamin C at about 23 milligrams, according to the USDA. Vitamin C is important for your immunity and fights free radical damage.
- A wedge of watermelon offers up 1,627 IU of vitamin A, notes the USDA. This nutrient is important for your eyes, your immunity and your body's ability to produce healthy white blood cells, reports the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Help Your Diet
Watermelon is fat-free, which makes it a healthy choice for a diet that protects against obesity and conditions linked to it, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Here are some other facts about watermelon and how it can help keep your diet on track:
- A wedge of watermelon contains about 21 grams of carbs, according to the USDA. Don't be concerned, though, because they're the "good" carbs that your body needs to produce glucose for energy. The carbohydrates in fruit, including watermelon, give you long-lasting energy, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- That same wedge of watermelon contains over a gram of fiber, which is good news for many reasons. Fiber helps promote healthy digestion and it fills you up, helping prevent hunger between meals. That translates to better weight control, notes the Mayo Clinic.
- A wedge of watermelon weighs in with only about 86 calories, notes the USDA. Combined with the high fiber content, watermelon is a great choice for weight loss meal plan that satisfies your appetite and is nutrient-dense at the same time.
You probably already know that too much sugar isn't healthy. In fact, according to Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD in an interview with the Cleveland Clinic, too much sugar plays a role in the development of obesity, heart disease and inflammation. But don't put down the watermelon just yet. Ohlson explains that naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit have a place in your diet because they are also chock full of important nutrients.
So go ahead and have that watermelon, but cut back on soda, baked goods, candy and other foods that contain added sugars. Watermelon contains about 17 grams of sugar per wedge, according to the USDA, so balance it with other fruits and vegetables for the most benefits.
The key to successful weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume. That means if you include watermelon in your meal plan, you must balance it with the other foods you eat as well as your exercise habits to be sure you're creating a deficit.
Think about it this way - a wedge of watermelon contains nearly 100 calories, so it you gobble down four of them, you're at nearly 400 calories in no time. Despite all the health benefits of watermelon, be sure you aren't overdoing it.
Dr. Melina Jampolis, in a CNN Health column, advises those who want to lose weight to limit their fruit intake to three servings per day. A serving of watermelon is a wedge about 1/16 of an average-sized watermelon, which allows you to reap the nutritional benefits of watermelon without hindering your weight loss goals.
Delicious and Nutritious
Watermelon is a tasty fruit and is available year-round in many supermarkets, making it easy to include it in your meal plans. Be sure you balance it with other healthy options.
The experts at Health magazine suggest having watermelon for breakfast. You can also toss it into salad, eat it as a snack or serve it for dessert. No matter how you slice it, watermelon is a great choice for a nutritious diet.