When we think of health benefits of watermelon, we tend to ignore the health benefits of watermelon seeds. Benefits of watermelon seeds are quite different from benefits of watermelon sweet, juicy pulp. Further our cartoon characters have promoted spitting of beneficial watermelon seeds (Read bullet speed and Watermelon seed spitting). Considering the nutrient packed in watermelon seeds and health benefits of watermelon seeds, you might need to rethink spitting or discarding watermelon seeds.
Globally watermelon is widely consumed, but in most places watermelon seeds are discarded. In Asian and Middle Eastern countries, watermelon seeds are collected, dried and roasted for eating. Watermelon seeds are also used in making soups or other beneficial products like watermelon seed oil, watermelon seed tea and watermelon seed extract are made.
Nutrition Value of Watermelon seeds
Watermelon seeds are packed with nutrients including fatty acids, essential proteins and lots of minerals. Around 100 gram of watermelon seeds provide around 600 calories same as having 10 loaves of bread. Around 400 calories come from fats in watermelon seeds. Fat content in 100 gram of watermelon seeds is around 80% of daily dietary requirement of fats. Around one third of watermelon seeds is proteins, mainly highly essential proteins like lysine.
Let’s have a look at mineral and vitamin content of watermelon seeds. Watermelon seeds are good source of vitamin B like Thiamin, niacin, folate. Watermelon seeds are rich in minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, Zinc, Iron, potassium and Copper. 100 grams of watermelon seeds provides around 139%, 87%, 82%, 74%, 44%, 20% and 37% of daily dietary values of these minerals respectively. Watermelon seeds are also good source of dietary fibers which are essential for healthy bowel movements and digestion.
Health benefits of water melon seeds
Apart from a good snack, watermelon seed is used traditionally for treatment of various diseases including bacterial infection, kidney problems, skin and hair problem. Water melon seed oil is popular in oil in Africa. A good source of amino acids and phytochemicals, benefits of watermelon seeds are discussed more below:
Source of Arginine, lysine and other essential amino acids
Amongst all the amino acids body requires, there are some known as essential amino acids which body cannot produce. These include arginine, lysine and others. Watermelon seeds supply some of these essential amino acids including tryptophan, glutamic acids. Lysine plays important role in calcium absorption and formation of collgen and connective tissues in body. Arginine helps in improvement of body metabolism, cardio vascular system and sexual health.
Rich source of magnesium and vitamins
Watermelon seeds are rich in magnesium and 100 grams of watermelon seeds provide around 139% of daily dietary requirement of magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for normal heart functioning, promoting normal blood pressure, supporting energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It has beneficial effect in treating cardiovascular diseases, hypertension. Magnesium regulates carbohydrate metabolism and thereby checks blood sugar and controls diabetes.
Watermelon seeds are equivalent to multivitamin B complex supplements we consume. Some of the vitamin B present in watermelon seeds include niacin, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, panthothenic acid. About 100 gm of watermelon seed provide 19% daily value of niacin, which is essential in maintaining the nervous system, digestive system and skin health.
Source of dietary fibers
Watermelon seeds are good source of dietary fibers – both insoluble and soluble fibers. It is helpful in smooth bowel movements and treatment of constipation. It is also helpful in removal of toxins and cholesterol from body.
Anti-inflammatory properties of watermelon seeds
Water melon seed is considered demulcent or a substance that relieves irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth. Lipids in watermelon seed helps form protective layer mucus membrane and thus reduces inflammation. Lab studies with rats have confirmed strong anti-inflammatory activity of watermelon seed oil and comparable to standard drug diclofenec. Study suggests it potential application in making natural anti-inflammatory drug.
Watermelon Seeds have been traditionally used in curing edema. As home remedy for curing edema, a teaspoon of dry ground watermelon seed powder is consumed with honey.
Antimicrobial properties of water melon seeds
Traditionally in Sudan, watermelon seeds are used to treat bacterial and fungal infection as gastrointestinal infection, diarrhea, respiratory and skin diseases. Lab studies in 2011, with organic solvent based water melon seed extract have found it to be effective over wide range of bacteria and fungus including E.coli. This anti-microbial property can be attributed to phytochemicals- terpenes and steroids present in seeds.
Treatment of diabetes
Watermelon seeds are traditionally used in treatment of diabetes. Watermelon seed tea made from boiling 2-3 teaspoons of watermelon seeds in 2-3 cups of water for about 30-45 minutes. This decoction is belived to control blood sugar level and check diabetes. Latest studies have found watermelon seeds to have high antioxidant properties which have protective action on pancreas and help treat diabetes.
[ Read more about Natural foods for diabetes ]
Treatment of Prostate enlargement
Research published in European Journal of Medicinal Plants suggests benefits of watermelon seeds in treating prostate enlargement. Lab studies suggest that watermelon seed extract was effective in treatment of artificially induced prostate enlargement. More research shall establish its use in treatment of prostate disorders.
Antioxidant and analgesic properties
Lab studies have been able to successfully demonstrate strong antioxidant and analgesic properties of watermelon seed extract. Research suggests watermelon seed extract as good candidate for future food medicine. Phytochemicals in watermelon seeds have strong free radical scavenging properties.
Improve sexual health
Arginine is essential amino acids present in Watermelon seed, which is believed to improve sexual health in men. A 2013 study, suggests that Arginine promotes production of nitric oxide in body and is helpful in treating acute erectile dysfunction. Consumption of watermelon and watermelon seeds is believed to increase sperm production and sustain erection.
Treatment of gastric ulcers
A study published in International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2012 found ability of water melon extract to treat ulcers in rats. Study found that it reduces secretion of gastric acid in stomach and helps in treatment of gastric ulcers. This has opened doors for plant based medicines using anti-ulcer potential of water melon seeds for treatment of gastric ulcers without any side effects.
Diuretic action of watermelon seed
Watermelon seed is believed to promote production of urine. It thus because of its diuretic action helps excretion of water from body and aids detoxification. It is employed in treatment of urinary passages and treat bed wetting. An emulsion created by scrubbing and shaking watermelon seeds with water is traditionally used in treating catarrhal infections, disorders of the bowels, urinary passage, bed wetting and fever.
Water melon seed tea is traditionally considered as detox. It has been used to cleanse kidney and treat kidney disorders. Further Animal studies with rats have showed hepatoprotective activity of watermelon seed oil. Water melon seed oil was found helpful in treating artificially induced toxicity in rat liver.
It is also believed to act as body tonic and aids in reduction of blood pressure. It offers wide range of vitamins, minerals, proteins and other phytochemicals which have protective function on body.
Getting rid of intestinal parasites
It is good vermifuge; Fatty acid extracted from seed as well as its extracts are reported to paralyze tapeworms and round warms.
Skin benefits of watermelon seeds
There are two ways in which watermelon seed can be beneficial for your skin. Either you consume watermelon seed and seek healthy skin. Alternately you may use watermelon seed externally and enjoy benefits for your skin.
Skin Nutrients – Watermelon seed are rich in Vitamin B3 or niacin which increases production of ceramides and fatty acids responsible for protection of skin. Study shows that topical use of niacinamide (vitamin B3) provided improvements and prevention of aging facial skin. It reduced fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, red blotchiness and skin sallowness. It made skin more elastic.
Watermelon seed is also high on magnesium which helps prevent skin infections like cold sores and rashes. Zinc is another mineral found in watermelon seeds which plays vital role in cell growth and regeneration. Skin cells are in constant process of generation and regeneration. Zinc helps keep skin cells healthy. Zinc also controls production of oil in skin and thus useful for acne and other skin disorders.
Excretory function – A healthy skin is often correlated with healthy bowels. Ever noticed you suffered from constipation or had bloated stomach and you had acnes on skin. Skin acts as an excretory organ, and excretes harmful toxins from body. In case of bad stomach, skin assists in removal of toxins which often blocks in skin pores and results acne or boils. Dietary fibers in watermelon seed helps bowel movements and thus keeps skin healthy.
Moisturizing properties – Watermelon seed Oil is obtained from crushing dried watermelon seeds and also known as Ootanga Oil and Kalahari Oil or Kalahari Melon oil. African people have understood benefits of watermelon seeds and been using highly nutritive oil from watermelon seeds. Watermelon seed oil has amazing moisturizing capabilities and forms essential ingredient in baby oils.
Cleansing properties: Watermelon oil contains essential fatty acids helpful for skin, it eliminates any toxins from skin, and helps keep skin fresh and elastic. Watermelon seed oil helps in removal of sebum, dirt and grease that blocks skin pores and make-up. Watermelon seed oil offers clean and healthy skin. You can apply some watermelon seed oil and massage gently, may be once or twice a week for good looking and clean skin. Rough texture of ground watermelon seed along with its astringent properties, makes it good ingredient for a skin scrub. Cleansing your skin with water melon seed oil is good way to clear pores and is home remedy for acne.
[ Read more about benefits of watermelon seed oil ]
Traditionally watermelon seeds were chewed and moistened with saliva and rubbed over body skin. It was believed to keep skin smooth and glowing. Most of the skin care formulations today use watermelon seed oil for its benefits to skin.
Homemade Watermelon Seed Scrub: Blend watermelon along with watermelon seeds. Add some gram powder and make paste. Add this paste to dry skin. Leave for 10 minutes, scrub and remove the paste. You would see dirt from skin pores removed.
Watermelon Body Scrub: Blend a cup of watermelon along with watermelon seeds till it is smooth. Add some sugar and lemon juice. Refrigerate in closed container for storing. Apply to body before shower.
Watermelon seed paste for Skin: Make paste of watermelon seeds. Add some lemon juice and some crystals of alum. Apply to your skin, leave for 10-15 minutes and wash off the paste from skin.
Hair Benefits of watermelon seeds
Today you may have found Water melon seed oil being used in hair care products as non greasy high moisturizer. Watermelon seeds offer good amount of proteins and minerals which are helpful for health of your hair and scalp. Simply put, Watermelon seeds can help your hair grow longer and stronger.
With its cleansing properties, watermelon seed oil can help declog your scalp pores and prevent them from microbial infection which may lead to hair loss. If you are suffering from itchy scalp, applying watermelon seed oil can help.Watermelon seed oil offers moisturizing effect on your hair and helps regain hair shine and gloss.
Cooking Watermelon Seeds
We all read how nutritious watermelon seeds are. We can just roast them and eat them as snack. These roasted watermelon seeds can also be used to garnish salads. Oil obtained from watermelon seed is used as moisturizer for skin. Watermelon seed oil finds its place in some of skin care products and cosmetics. Sometimes watermelon seed extract is used instead. Watermelon seed extract is considered as home remedy for stomach and urinary tract related disorders. Tea from ground watermelon seed is also consumed in some parts of glob. It is because of health benefits of watermelon seed tea, it is considered to improve health of kidney. Research is ongoing to confirm this health benefit of watermelon seed tea.
How to make roasted watermelon seeds: Collecting watermelon seed from watermelon we eat is first process. Dark coloured watermelon seeds should be preferred. These collected seeds shall be washed well, removing any pulpy matter. These washed seeds should be dried. You can dry them under sun if you want. These dried seeds should be fried with some oil. Keep stirring the seeds till they look completely roasted. Add some salted water to this pan, and keep heating the seeds till the water is evaporated and seeds are completely dried. Avoid overheating the seeds as you do not want the nutrients especially vitamins to be removed and enjoy completely the health benefits of watermelon seeds.
These salted, tasty watermelon seeds can be stored and enjoyed as munching snack. Roasted and salted watermelon seeds remains as one of the traditional Egyptian snacks. These seeds can also be ground into cereal and used to make bread or used in stews and soups. (read more: 1, 2 )