Health Benefits Of Eating Watermelon During Pregnancy

Health Benefits Of Eating Watermelon During Pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Come summer and we all crave the red, juicy watermelons. This sweet and nutritious fruit is often preferred to a glass of water. Considering that, watermelons must be good for pregnant women too, right? Or are they?

This MomJunction post about watermelon during pregnancy will answer these questions.

Is It Safe To Eat Watermelon During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to include watermelon in your pregnancy diet. Watermelon is 92% water and keeps you hydrated in scorching summers. The fruit is also a good source of vital nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. Consuming the fruit in the right quantities can be beneficial for pregnant women.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Watermelon During Pregnancy?

Regular consumption of watermelon during pregnancy will help you reap the following benefits.

  1. Keeps you hydrated: Dehydration during pregnancy could cause certain problems such as low amniotic fluid, Braxton-Hicks contractions, and sometimes major birth defects too. Consuming watermelon during pregnancy helps you stay hydrated. Proper hydration provides cushioning to the baby and also provides you with essential nutrients (1) (2).
  1. Helps with constipation: The hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause constipation problems. This may occur due to low fiber consumption, insufficient fluids, or calcium or iron tablets. Watermelon is a good source of water, hence eating it during pregnancy could help you get relief from bowel concerns (3).
  1. Eliminates toxins: Water-rich fruits such as watermelon help in the detoxification process, thereby flushing out harmful substances from the body.
  1. Treats morning sickness: 70-80% of pregnant women who experience nausea and vomiting are recommended foods rich in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Watermelon is one of the best sources of vitamin B6 and can provide relief from this common pregnancy condition (4).
  1. Strengthens immune system: Your immune system becomes vulnerable during pregnancy due to various reasons. Include watermelon in your regular diet as it is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants that play a vital role in strengthening the immune system (5).
  1. Reduces high blood pressure: Pregnant women with high blood pressure are at risk of preeclampsia and toxemia. Eating watermelon during pregnancy can help in reducing blood pressure levels (6).
  1. Relieves heartburn: About 30-70% expecting mothers suffer heartburn, which increases in the second stage of pregnancy. Eating watermelon during this time helps in treating the discomfort and also offers you essential nutrients (7).
  1. Reduces swelling: Medically termed as edema, swelling in the hands and feet is common during pregnancy. Watermelon contains beta carotene, folic acid, vitamins B and C, and water that helps in reducing the inflammation (8).
  1. Helps with muscle cramps: During pregnancy, you will require potassium for muscle- functioning. Watermelon is a good source of potassium and will help reduce your cramps (9).

The seeds of this fruit are also eaten by many. Next, we tell you about watermelon seeds.

Is It Safe To Eat Watermelon Seeds During Pregnancy?

Yes, you can have watermelon seeds when pregnant as they are good sources of protein, iron, manganese, zinc, and calcium (10). However, make sure you consume them in moderation for reaping the benefits.

What Are The Benefits Of Watermelon Seeds For Pregnant Women?

Consuming watermelon seeds when pregnant will help you in the following ways.

  • They have natural diuretic effects that help in preventing the build-up of urine and reduce the chances of kidney stones and urinary tract infections (11) (12).
  • Lack of iron in your pregnancy diet could result in anemia, which could increase the risks of low fetal birth weight and certain birth defects. Watermelon seeds have sufficient iron and other essential minerals to prevent this complication for pregnant women.

Pregnant women should have watermelon in moderate quantities. Eating too much of the fruit could lead to some unfavorable consequences.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Consuming Watermelon When Pregnant?

Yes, excess consumption of watermelon can lead to certain adverse effects in pregnancy. A few of them are:

  1. Loss of nutrients: As watermelon is known to have natural diuretic properties, consuming it too much can also flush out the essential nutrients. Hence, it is recommended that you consume it in moderation.
  1. Allergies: Watermelon contains latex and should be avoided if you are allergic to latex (13).
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): If you have IBS, restrict the amount of watermelon in your diet to prevent gastrointestinal issues that could make your pregnancy difficult (14).
  1. Gestational diabetes: High GI food choices could increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Watermelon has a mean GI of 76, hence consuming the fruit in excess is not recommended (15).

Different Ways To Consume Watermelon During Pregnancy

There are different ways to enjoy the taste and benefits of watermelon during pregnancy.

1. Watermelon juice:

Watermelon juice

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 medium-sized watermelon
  • 1 small lemon

How to:

  1. Cut the watermelon in two halves. Then slice it to small strips.
  2. Remove all the seeds from the watermelon slices.
  3. Scoop out the flesh from the rind and blend.
  4. Blend until it is smooth
  5. Strain the mixture into a glass, and squeeze some lemon juice.
  6. Your healthy watermelon juice is ready to relish.

2. Watermelon and mint salad:

Watermelon and mint salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 3 cups watermelon cubes
  • 2tbsp black olives
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

How to:

  1.  Mix watermelon cubes, sliced black olives, and mint leaves in a bowl.
  2. Toss the ingredients well.
  3. Add olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt and toss them again.

3. Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups diced watermelon
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • ½ chopped, seedless cucumber
  • 2tbsp diced jalapeno pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • 3tbsp mint leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Mince red onion, mint, and jalapeno pepper together in a food processor.
  2. Add watermelon, cucumber, and tomato and make a smooth puree.
  3. Add olive oil, lime juice, pepper, and salt and mix it properly.
  4. Refrigerate it for about 10 minutes.
  5. You can add some watermelon cubes in the recipe, along with feta cheese and mint leaves for garnishing and serve.

A Word Of Caution:

  • Watermelons get spoiled quickly, so do not keep the fruit out in the open for many days. Eating stale fruit may cause vomiting, nausea, and even gastrointestinal problems.
  • Avoid eating watermelon at night or before sleeping as the fruit may not get digested properly due to slowed metabolism at night. Also, the excess water content in watermelon could increase the frequency of urination during the night, thereby disturbing your sleep.

Watermelon is indeed a nutritious and safe fruit that pregnant women can eat. However, see that you are consuming it in limited quantities to experience the benefits. You can always seek your doctor’s advice to know how much fruit would be beneficial for you.

Have you eaten watermelon during pregnancy? How have you consumed it? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

References:

1. Basic Report: 09326, Watermelon, raw; National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release; United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service (2018)
2. C. Yu; Dehydration During Pregnancy: What Expecting Mothers Should Know; Dignity Health (2018)
3. Fiber, Digestion, and Health; Cornell Health (2012)
4. Morning Sickness; Health Navigator
5. P. Hull; Why eat watermelons? Because they’re good for you; Clemson University (2012)
6. Pregnancy induced High Blood Pressure (PIH); Awakening Birth
7. Why watermelon is important for your pregnancy diet; Care Point Health (2015)
8. O Coetzee and D Filatova; Lipidema and Lymphedema: the “Leaky Lymph,” Weight Loss Resistance and the Intestinal Permeability Connection; EC Nutrition (2017)
9. W. Zhou; Demand For Watermelon And Application Of Aids Models; University Of Florida (2011)
10. B. Tabiri et al., Watermelon Seeds as Food: Nutrient Composition, Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Activity; International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences (2016)
11. M. Schrank; The Amazing Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds; Help & Save (2016)
12. I. Purwidyaningrum, Iswandi, and J. Bili; Diuretic Activity of Water Melon Rind Extract (Citrullus vulgaris) and Its Influence on Sodium and Potassium Levels; International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research (2018)
13. D. L. Hepner and M. C. Castells; Latex Allergy: An Update; Harvard Medical Achool
14. Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome; Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (2015)
15. J. Higdon; Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load; Micronutrient Information Center: Oregon State University (2003)
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