Can I Eat Watermelon If I Have Diabetes?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Watermelon is everyone's summertime favorite. Eating the cool, sweet, water-rich fruit in hot summers is a joy. However, not everyone can enjoy watermelon wholeheartedly. People with diabetes need to be mindful of their watermelon consumption. Watermelon is a fruit containing high natural sugar. Eating it can impact blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. They must monitor their portion size and the foods they consume alongside watermelon.

Nutritional Profile of Watermelon

Native to Africa, watermelon is scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus, and is a highly nutritious fruit thats enjoyed throughout the globe to beat the summer heat. Every 100g of watermelon contains -

Glycemic Profile of Watermelon

Watermelons have high carbohydrates and natural sugars, but the way your body breaks them down determines whether they cause glucose spikes or not. Glycemic index and glycemic load are essential to understand these.

The Glycemic Index measures the speed at which food is absorbed into our blood, and depicts how quickly our body absorbs sugar from food. GI is calculated based on how fast our stomach digests the food and releases it into the bloodstream.  It ranges from a scale of 0 to 100. Foods on the scale 0 to 55 are low GI, 55 to 70 are medium GI, and above 70 are high GI. Watermelon has a High Glycemic index of 72

The Glycemic Load measures the qty of sugar absorbed into our blood from a particular food. It is a combination of GI with actual carbohydrate content in a food serving where 0-10 is low GL, 10-19 is medium GL, and anything value above 19 is high. Watermelon has a Low Glycemic Load of 2

This combination of High GI and Low GL makes it possible for watermelon to be consumed even by people with diabetes.

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Benefits of Watermelon

1. Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamin A is essential for eye health
  • Vitamin C maintains immunity and fights the common cold
  • Vitamin B6 ensures proper cell function.
  • Potassium help manage blood pressure
  • Magnesium is crucial for energy production
  • Iron provides enough oxygen supply to cells
  • Calcium takes care of bone health

2. Loaded with Lycopene

Apart from vitamins and minerals, watermelon contains a pigment called lycopene. This pigment gives watermelon its signature color. Early studies show that lycopene may reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues and certain types of cancer. It is also good for bone health.

3. Hydrates the Body and improves Metabolism

Watermelon contains 90% water that prevents dehydration and makes you feel full. The water and fiber content of watermelon improves metabolism, thereby aiding in weight loss.

4. Rich in Antioxidants

Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, damage cells, and cause cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants present in watermelon help in removing these free radicals from the body. 

5. Good for Heart health

Citrulline is an amino acid present in watermelon that helps circulate blood in the body and lowers blood pressure. Watermelon also contains potassium which helps manage blood pressure. Lycopene in watermelon is also known for reducing cardiovascular issues.

6. Other Benefits

Watermelon satisfies the sweet tooth with its natural sugar content. It is also known to reduce muscle soreness, soothe the skin, and protect the joints from inflammation.

How Much Watermelon Can a Person with Diabetes Eat?

Adding watermelon to a diabetes diet is not harmful. Though watermelon has a high GI, it is 90% water, and its seeds contain fiber. If incorporated with portion control, watermelon may not cause a sudden rise in sugar levels.

Tips for Consuming Watermelon

  • It is better to consume watermelon whole instead of juicing it. Watermelon juice contains a higher GI.
  • Eat watermelon alongside other nutrition and fiber-rich foods that balance blood sugar levels.
  • Eat fresh fruits and not canned ones.
  • Watch your portion size
  • Consume watermelon in small portions across a duration of time instead of having them all together at once.

Watermelon and diabetes do not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone's body has a different response to different foods. If you have diabetes, you can include a small portion of watermelon in your diet. Track your glucose levels after consuming watermelon and see how your body responds. People with diabetes should consult a doctor/dietician before making any significant changes in their diet. They will recommend portion sizes based on an individual's weight goals and how their body may react to them.

Alternatives to Watermelon

Fruits with a low Glycemic Index are the best fruits for diabetes. They do not raise blood sugar levels and manage the sweet tooth healthily. Here are a few diabetes-friendly fruits

  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Berries
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