What is watermelon juice?
Watermelons are popular foods - especially in summer - but what about their juice as a drink - and does it have any health or nutrition benefits?
The refreshing taste of watermelon juice is popular with athletes for hydration. Watermelons are the large green melons which have darker green stripes on the outside and a mainly bright red inside with large dark seeds. It has a high water content making it ideal for juicing. Most people eat only the red insides of a watermelon, but as it is from the same plant family as the cucumber, the skin is also edible - just make sure it is well washed first.
You can buy ready prepared watermelon juice or you can easily make your own - no recipe needed. Depending on the equipment you have you can either place whole pieces of the melon, including the skin, in a juicer, or you can scoop out the insides of the melon and pop them in the blender. There is even a YouTube clip showing a man placing a hand-held blender into a whole watermelon and making the juice inside the fruit which saves on washing-up!
You don't need any extra ingredients - but for added zing - try a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Are there health benefits?
Watermelon juice tastes good but won't make you feel guilty. It's sweet but is fat free and low in calories and being water-rich is good at rehydrating the body. It is also cholesterol free - like all fruits and vegetables.
In nutrition and vitamin terms, it's rich in vitamin C and also contains potassium and beta-carotene along with the heart healthy antioxidant lycopene – all of which help protect our health. Lycopene is responsible for the bright red colour of the watermelon flesh.
Watermelon juice also contains citrulline, an amino acid and natural antioxidant. This is found more in the skin and rind than the pulp and more in watermelons with yellow or orange flesh. Citrulline can help boost blood flow and some reports suggest it can help treat impotence. It has also been shown to help athletes reduce muscle soreness, but didn't improve endurance exercise performance in athletes.
Are there any health concerns?
Not all watermelon juices are created equal. Check the label of shop bought juices and avoid those with added sugar - which means more calories.
The high citrulline levels in whole fruit juice and supplements may interfere with blood pressure, heart disease, and erectile dysfunction medication, but a glass or two of juice isn't likely to have any untoward effects. Seek medical advice if you have concerns.
Dietitian reviewed by Catherine Collins RD