Watermelon seeds are often overlooked and discarded when enjoying a juicy slice of watermelon. However, these small black seeds are edible and actually provide an impressive array of nutrients and health benefits. Here are the top 10 reasons to eat watermelon seeds.
1. High in Protein
Watermelon seeds are a surprisingly rich source of protein. A 1 ounce (28 gram) serving contains about 5 grams of protein (1). This makes them a convenient protein-packed snack. The protein in watermelon seeds provides essential amino acids for supporting muscle growth and maintenance. The amino acid arginine in particular may help enhance athletic performance and exercise recovery (2).
2. Loaded with Magnesium
One of the standout nutrients in watermelon seeds is magnesium. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) contains nearly 50% of the recommended daily intake for adults (1). Magnesium is a mineral that participates in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It’s vital for heart health, bone strength, energy production, sleep, mood and more (3).
3. Good Source of Zinc
Zinc is another important mineral found in watermelon seeds. A serving of around 150 seeds has over 20% of the daily zinc needs for men and nearly 15% for women (1). Zinc aids immune function, wound healing, DNA and protein production and growth and development during childhood (4).
4. Contains Iron
Watermelon seeds provide around 10% of the recommended iron intake per serving (1). Iron carries oxygen to your cells and supports energy levels. It’s also crucial for proper immune function. Many people don’t meet their daily iron needs, making iron-rich watermelon seeds helpful for preventing deficiency.
5. High in Fiber
If you spit out the soft inner kernel and eat only the outer shell of watermelon seeds, you get a good amount of fiber. The shells are fibrous and crunchy with nearly 1 gram of fiber in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving (1). Fiber keeps your digestive system healthy and promotes feelings of fullness after meals (5).
6. Rich in Healthy Fats
Although watermelon seeds are relatively low in fat, the fats they do contain are predominantly the healthy unsaturated kind. The seeds provide small amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats like oleic acid and linoleic acid (1). These types of fats help reduce inflammation and lower heart disease risk when consumed in moderation (6, 7).
7. Contains Beneficial Plant Compounds
Watermelon seeds contain certain plant compounds that have been linked to health benefits. Citrulline is one compound that may relax blood vessels, potentially improving circulation and blood pressure (8). The outer shells also contain small amounts of phytosterols, which help block cholesterol absorption in your digestive tract (9).
8. May Boost Male Fertility
Some early research indicates that watermelon seed extracts may have beneficial effects on male fertility. In one small study, men with low sperm counts who took watermelon seed extract supplements for 3 months had significantly increased sperm concentration and motility compared to a control group (10). More research is needed to confirm these effects.
9. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Watermelon seeds can easily be incorporated into a balanced diet. Try adding toasted watermelon seeds as a topping for salads, yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies. You can also make watermelon seed butter for a healthy spread. Avoid eating very large quantities of seeds in one sitting, as this may lead to digestive upset.
10. Kid-Friendly Snack
Because of their mildly sweet and nutty taste, watermelon seeds make for a tasty and healthy snack for kids. They’re packed with important nutrients like protein, magnesium and iron. Try sprinkling a handful of toasted watermelon seeds over your child’s favorite fruit or in a trail mix. Just be sure to remove any soft inner kernels, as these may be a choking hazard for very young children.
While many people spit out watermelon seeds, these nutritional powerhouses are worthy of eating. Watermelon seeds are highly versatile and can be incorporated into recipes from breakfast to dinner. With their stellar nutrient profile and ease of use, watermelon seeds definitely deserve a spot in your diet.