Watermelon is a fruit that can be found almost everywhere mostly during summers. Being high in water content it can be a perfect thirst quencher. Not only are watermelon tasty and refreshing, but they are also healthy too.
Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin A and C. It is also a source of lycopene that has cancer-fighting and cardiovascular health benefits.(1,2) Anything even if healthy, if overeaten can have side effects and the same applies to fruits.
Side Effects of Watermelon
Despite having beneficial nutrients, there are several components in watermelon that can affect health negatively.
The side effects of overeating this fruit are as follows:
- Intestinal disturbances: Excessive watermelon intake can cause nausea, bloating, gas, discomfort and diarrhea. It is due to the high FODMAP content.(3,4) FODMAP refers to the group of short-chain carbs that are slowly digested in the small intestine or are non-digestible. Those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are prescribed a low FODMAP diet. Because of the fructose content of watermelon, it is labeled as a high FODMAP food. Fructose if consumed in high quantities can cause bloating and discomfort.(4) Even by being a high FODMAP fruit, it is not that every time consuming a large serving of watermelon would lead to stomach issues. Only those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome need to be extra cautious.
- Cardiovascular Disorders: Watermelon is rich in potassium content. Excessive intake of potassium-rich foods can lead to cardiovascular disorders such as weak pulse, irregular heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.(5)
- Raise Blood Sugar Level: Watermelon has a high glycemic index and overeating may raise the blood sugar level. High glycemic index foods cause a spike in blood sugar level while foods that have low glycemic index may cause a steady rise in blood sugar.(6) While glycemic index indicates how blood sugar reacts to carb-containing foods glycemic load indicates the serving size.(7) 152 grams serving of watermelon is classified as low glycemic load food in spite of being high on the glycemic index.(8) Therefore, eating a serving of watermelon would cause no harm. But, overeating watermelon can be harmful especially for diabetics who need to keep a check on their blood sugar count.
- Cause Skin Discoloration: The red color of watermelon is due to a pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant and a pigment that imparts color to fruits and vegetables. If consumed in excess it can build up in the skin’s outer layer and alter skin pigmentation.(9) It causes yellow-orange discoloration of the skin called lycopenemia, which is a rare but reversible condition. It can be reversed by lowering the amount of lycopene-rich food in the diet.
- Increases the Risk of Liver Inflammation: People with a habit of drinking alcohol regularly should avoid foods that are rich in lycopene. Lycopene reacts with alcohol and causes liver inflammation.(10) Watermelon is rich in lycopene and should be avoided by alcoholics to prevent liver damage.
- Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy: Many pregnant females are plagued by gestational diabetes. Consuming watermelon in large quantities can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Therefore it is safe for pregnant women to avoid watermelon for a few months.
How Much Watermelon Is Safe To Be Consumed?
Watermelon is a safe and healthy fruit and consuming in limited quantity can cause no harm.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, 2 cups of fruits a day for a standard 2000 calories diet is safe to consume, which is roughly 300 grams of watermelon.(11)
Watermelon is a wonderful summer fruit. It is extremely good to keep the body hydrated during the hot summer months. It is also a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C and has antioxidant powers. But, consuming large quantities of it can affect health negatively.
Limit consumption and enjoy its numerous benefits and refreshing taste.
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