can a diabetic eat watermelon
Nutrition

Watermelon For Diabetes

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.

If you're worried about how much watermelon can a diabetic eat, here is a complete guide on watermelon and its effect on people with diabetes.

Benefits of Watermelon

Native to Africa, watermelon is scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus, and is a highly nutritious fruit that's enjoyed throughout the globe to beat the summer heat.

Every 100g of watermelon contains -

30 Kcal Energy
7.55 g Carbohydrates
6.2 g Sugars
0.4 g Fiber
28 μg Vitamin A
8.1 mg Vitamin C
0.045 mg Vitamin B6
112 mg Potassium
10 mg Magnesium
0.24 mg Iron
7 mg Calcium

1. Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals present in watermelon have numerous benefits. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, vitamin C maintains immunity and fights the common cold, and vitamin B6 ensures proper cell function. Minerals like potassium help manage blood pressure, magnesium is crucial for energy production, iron provides enough oxygen supply to cells, and 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.

Watermelon Effect on Diabetes

Diabetes generally happens when the beta cells found in the pancreas are damaged. These beta cells manage the secretion of the hormone called insulin, which is helpful to control the blood sugar levels in the body. That’s why for a person with diabetes, it becomes necessary to check on his diet patterns and keep a track of the blood glucose levels in the body. They are generally suggested to avoid food rich in sugar content.

Now, the question arises, is watermelon good for diabetes? Of course, it is. One might wonder, if there is natural sugar in watermelon, how can it be good for people with diabetes? Let us find out the effect of watermelon on diabetes -

  • Watermelon is a refreshing fruit which is filled with some amazing nutrients which include protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium that is beneficial to the body.
  • It helps to manage sugar levels as well as decreases the risk of diabetes-related complications which includes kidney failure, neuropathy, eye damage, heart problems etc.
  • Watermelon contains lycopene which is a pigment that offers a red colour to the fruit. Lycopene is a strong antioxidant which helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
  • As the watermelon is sweet to taste, is it high in sugar? The watermelon's sugar content is around 6 percent and has a low amount of carbs and calories. Therefore, consuming watermelon in moderation can benefit people with diabetes as it won’t add up to the accumulation of excess fat in the tissues, thereby maintaining optimal body weight.
  • The glycemic index of watermelon is 72, however, the glycemic load is relatively lower i.e, 2 per 100 gm of serving. Due to the moderately low glycemic load, it is beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes to keep their sugar levels under control.
  • Watermelon seeds are filled with nutrients like omega 3, omega 6, potassium, zinc and proteins. So, a person with diabetes can eat up the seeds of a watermelon and acquire the nutritive benefits. 
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Watermelon Glycemic Index

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.

Watermelon has a Glycemic index of 72 and a glycemic load of 2 per 100g serving. What does this mean? Let us understand glycemic index and glycemic load.

The Glycemic index depicts how quickly our body absorbs sugar from food. Based on how fast our stomach digests the food and releases it into the bloodstream, GI is calculated. 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. 

Dieticians argue glycemic load is a better indicator. It is a combination of GI with actual carbohydrate content in a food serving. 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 per 100g serving. Though the GI of watermelon is high, its low GL indicates watermelon can be consumed in moderation by people with diabetes.

How Much Watermelon Can A Diabetic 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, people with diabetes can consume 150-200 gm watermelon at one time.

Best ways to eat watermelon with type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes are advised to take a well-balanced meal of watermelon either with some low glycemic index food or as it is. Depending on their present blood glucose levels, they can even take it in the form of juice but in restricted proportions. As watermelon has natural sugar, it is always preferable to take it along with some fat and protein-rich food so that the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream is slowed down preventing the spike in sugar levels. As much as possible avoid taking watermelon in processed form. The best way to add it to your diet is to take it in the form of fruit salad along with a wholesome meal so that you don’t end up eating too much of it. The following are some of the ways that you can include watermelon in your diet plan: –

  • Watermelon Sorbet – Dice watermelon into cubes of 1 inch, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze them for 5 hours. Blend the frozen watermelon with some lime juice and a pinch of salt. Blend until the watermelon is broken down into shaved ice consistency. Sorbet is ready to snack upon.
  • Smoothie – Take some watermelon cubes in a blender jug. Add two teaspoons of lemon juice. Blend these two ingredients well in a blender. Strain it with a kitchen sieve. The smoothie is ready to be consumed. You can have it at breakfast or after workouts. This will keep you hydrated and help manage your sugar levels.
  • Salad – Salad is easy to prepare and is a healthy food option for all categories of people. Take a cup of watermelon cut into cubes in a large bowl, and add two cucumbers by chopping them into cubes. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of salt, one-fourth cup of minced fresh parsley and fold them together and set it aside for 1 hour. Stir gently and enjoy the bowl of salad as a snack. This will keep you full and also provide the necessary nutrients. Add
  • Salsa – Take one cup of diced watermelon in a bowl, add one-fourth cup of diced onions, two-thirds cup of fresh cilantro leaves, half a cup of mint leaves, 2 jalapenos seeded and dice, zest and juice of one lime. Toss all of these together and have it immediately.

The seeds of watermelon can be consumed by crushing them into powder and then can be gulped along with juice or water. No matter, however, one consumes the watermelon, one should be mindful of the proportions of the servings they are consuming.

Macronutrients And Calories

Watermelon comprises mainly water and carbs where water is about 92 per cent and carbs are 7.5 per cent. Carbs are the main macronutrient present in watermelon. It has a very small amount of protein in it which is only 0.6 grams of protein in 100 grams of watermelon. It provides almost no fat, no trans fat or cholesterol, and only a low amount of saturated fats. Every 100 grams of watermelon provides only 30 calories.

Watermelon seeds contain a higher amount of proteins and fats which are 8 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. The seeds are also rich in fibre which is about 40 per cent and some calories.

The rind of the watermelon is very rich in citrulline which is an essential amino acid.

Vitamins and Watermelon

Watermelon is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A helps the body to defend against illness and infection, boosting the immune system and taking care of vision health and skin health. Vitamin C protects the cells, keeps the skin healthy and maintains the blood vessels and bones.

Watermelon contains the B vitamins like B complex, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 in moderate quantities which help in proper digestion and improves muscle, brain and nerve function. It contains a very low amount of Vitamin K and C. However, the seeds of watermelon are rich in vitamins C and E. The rind of the watermelon is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.

Minerals and watermelon

The pulp of watermelon is a very good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium potassium, phosphorus and manganese. These minerals are good for keeping the bone healthy and help in improving the metabolic activity in the body. They are also essential for the growth, sustenance and repair of cells and tissues in the body. It also contains other minerals such as iron, copper, zinc and selenium which help in fighting free radicals in the body and reduce oxidative stress. It contains very little sodium.

The seed of watermelon also contains some minerals which include calcium, zinc, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium and potassium.

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

Effect of Diet on Diabetes

Diet plays a very important role in either increasing or decreasing the blood sugar levels in the body. Therefore, it is essential to take a well-balanced diet that will provide the essential nutrients to the body.

The following type of diet is great for people with diabetes helping them manage their blood sugar levels -

  • Low glycemic index foods -  People with diabetes should take foods which has a low glycemic index to delay the absorption of glucose levels in the body. While consuming food with natural sugar like watermelon and other fruits, it is crucial to check the glycemic index of the food that you are consuming so that you don’t end up contributing to the spike in glucose levels.
  • Fibre-rich diet - Food rich in fiber can control blood sugar. As the body cannot absorb and break down fibre, it prevents the spike in the sugar levels keeping the glucose levels in the target range.
  • Low-fat foods - Foods low in fat and cholesterol are advisable. Diabetes damages the lining of the arteries. Therefore consuming high-cholesterol foods can stick to them and cause cardiovascular issues.
  • Complex carbohydrates - Including complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet will help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and the risk involved in diabetes.

 

As much as it is important to check what to eat for diabetes, it is also essential to check how much to eat. Foods taken in moderation will not spike blood sugar levels rather they will help in regulating glucose levels.

FAQs

Is watermelon good for diabetes?

Yes, watermelon is good for diabetes as long as you watch your diet and keep a tab on your blood sugar levels. When taken in small servings, it can be beneficial for people with diabetes as it contains so many minerals and vitamins that help in boosting immunity and prevent other complications related to diabetes.

Is watermelon a good detoxifier?

Yes, watermelon is a very good detoxifier. It contains more than 90 percent water, natural sugar, power-packed nutrients, fibre and antioxidants like lycopene. All these together help in detoxifying the body making it an immune stimulant. Watermelon is known to hydrate the body due to the presence of water in it and helps in removing all the toxins from the body.

What must not be consumed with watermelon?

Watermelon should never be consumed with fruits like honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and muskmelon. It should never be taken with acidic or sub-acidic fruits like strawberries, apples, pomegranates and peaches. One should also never eat watermelon with sweet fruits like raisins and bananas.

Is watermelon juice high in sugar?

Yes, watermelon juice is high in sugar compared to fresh whole watermelon. As the juice is processed, the glycemic index is quite high and can lead to a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is important to take it in moderation and along with low glycemic index food that will regulate the glucose levels in the body.

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