Watermelon Is Safe During Pregnancy
There are certain myths around watermelon that prevent women from enjoying the fruit. It is said that it causes diarrhea, flushes out vital nutrients from the body, and leads to excess weight gain. In fact, it is a nutritious fruit with plenty of health benefits. It keeps you hydrated, prevents pre-eclampsia, reduces swelling, and treats heat rashes. The fruit is harmless to pregnant women as long as it is had in moderation.
You may have heard how beneficial watermelon is for you, but does that hold true even when you are pregnant? Is it okay to indulge in its sweet, crunchy, and juicy goodness even when you are harboring a delicate life in your womb? Yes, it is not just safe but also beneficial to eat watermelon during pregnancy. We’ll explain that in a bit. But first let’s debunk the harmful myths around eating watermelon during pregnancy.
Myth 1: Watermelon Increases The Risk For Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a condition that may develop during pregnancy when your body cannot produce enough insulin to control your blood sugar levels.1 So having high-sugar foods is a no-no for pregnant women.
A serving of 1 to 2 cups of watermelon per day is not just safe but also beneficial.
But contrary to popular belief, watermelon is actually safe for diabetics. And it does not increase the risk for gestational diabetes. While it has a high glycemic index of 76, it would take about 10 cups of watermelon to cause a significant blood sugar spike.
Also, it has an abundance of the antioxidant lycopene, which is effective in preventing and alleviating complications associated with diabetes.2
Indulging in a few red, juicy pieces of watermelon will not harm you.
Watermelon does contain sugar, but for it to have a drastic effect on your blood glucose levels, you will have to eat plenty of it. Remember, moderation is key.
Myth 2: Watermelon Causes Weight Gain
Nurturing a little one in your womb requires you to put on some weight, but too much weight can increase your risk of complications, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, cesarean delivery, and delivering a larger-than-gestational-age (LGA) infant.3 Watching what you eat is an important factor in determining how much weight you gain during pregnancy.
Watermelon is a healthy snacking option. It contains almost 92% water and 7.55% carbohydrates. It is a rich source of carotenoid and flavonoids, and it is fat free and cholesterol free. 4 Since 2 cups of watermelon contain only about 80 calories, weight gain should be the last thing on your mind when you eat watermelon.5
Myth 3: Watermelon’s Cooling Effect Is Bad
Some view pregnancy as a condition that increases a woman’s core temperature and thus, eating watermelon, which has a cooling effect, harms their body. In fact, excessive body heat may result in embryonic death, developmental defects, and growth retardation.6 You should include watermelon in your diet during pregnancy to keep your body cool and to improve your fluid intake.78
Tip: Avoid eating watermelon if you have a fever or a cold, or if the climate is cold.
Myth 4: Watermelon Causes Diarrhea
Your body undergoes a myriad of uncomfortable changes during pregnancy and to make matters worse, you have to deal with constipation.9 During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin, which relaxes smooth muscles including the muscles of the digestive tract, hampering bowel movements.10 Watermelon is rich in fiber and has a high water content.11 These qualities of watermelon will relieve you of your constipation.
Myth 5: Watermelon Causes Gastric Issues
When you are pregnant, gastric issues, such as acidity and heartburn, become a part of your life.12 These issues are caused by the hormone relaxin, which does not allow the valve that separates the stomach and the food pipe to close properly. This allows the food to easily back up into the food pipe, causing heartburn.13 Luckily, watermelon is hydrating and has a cooling effect. It soothes your stomach and food pipe, relieving you of heartburn.14
Tip: Have freshly cut or juiced watermelon because it spoils easily.
Myth 6: Watermelon Flushes Out Vital Nutrients From your Body
Watermelon is extremely hydrating and flushes out toxins from the body via the kidneys.15 It is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.16 When you eat 1 or 2 servings of watermelon, you will replenish your body with plenty of nutrients instead of flushing them out.
Why Should You Eat Watermelon During Pregnancy?
Now that some myths are busted and out of the way, we can look at some of the benefits of eating watermelon during pregnancy.
1. It Gives You Relief From Morning Sickness
Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting in the mornings, is quite common during the early stages of pregnancy.17Having watermelon eases some of the symptoms of morning sickness, refreshes you, and provides you with some sugar to help you get through the day.18
2. It Prevents Dehydration
When you are pregnant, it is necessary to have sufficient amount of fluid in your body. Being dehydrated can impact the amount of fluid in the amniotic sac and may contribute to a condition called oligohydramnios.19 Oligohydramnios can lead to abnormalities of the fetus.20 Since, watermelon has a high water content, consuming it prevents you from getting dehydrated.
3. It Prevents Pre-eclampsia
Watermelon is rich in a powerful antioxidant known as lycopene. It is known to reduce the development of pre-eclampsia and the occurrence of intra-uterine growth retardation in women who are pregnant for the first time.21
4. It Relieves Muscle Aches
If you suffer from muscle aches and pains during pregnancy, then munching on some watermelon can make you feel better. It is rich in the mineral potassium, which helps in the transmission of nerve impulses and controls the contractility of skeletal muscles to relieve some of the pain.22
5. It Treats Heat Rashes
When you are nurturing a little one in your womb, your metabolism increases due to which there is a slight elevation in your body temperature.23 Since it is difficult for your body to remain cool, exposure to excessive heat can result in heat rashes.24 Since watermelon is extremely cooling, it will prevent or treat heat rashes.25
6. It Cures Urinary Tract Infections
During pregnancy, your urinary tract undergoes physiological changes due to which it is quite susceptible to urinary infections from the urethra.26 You can use watermelon to naturally cure the infection, instead of resorting to antibiotics. It contains amino acids such as citrulline and arginine, which can increase the production of urea in the liver.27 Its high water content increases the flow of urine, which flushes out microbes from the urethra. Always keep your doctor in the loop if you have a urinary tract infection to avoid serious complications.
7. It Reduces The Swelling Of Your Hands And Feet
When you are pregnant, blood circulation in your hands and feet may become poor so you tend to have puffy or swollen hands and legs.28 Luckily, watermelon is a great option to reduce the swelling. It contains L-citrulline, an amino acid, which adjusts your blood circulation.29
The Final Verdict
Watermelon has multiple health benefits and is completely safe to eat as long as you don’t go overboard with it. Always let your obstetrician/gynecologist know if you plan to start having watermelon on a regular basis. Since each individual is different and so is each pregnancy, your doctor will let you know how good watermelon is for you. They can even suggest a portion size that is appropriate for you.
References [ + ]
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|2.||↑||Aydin, Muhsin, and Sefa Celik. Effects of lycopene on plasma glucose, insulin levels, oxidative stress, and body weights of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences. 2012.|
|3.||↑||NICHD Research Weighs in on Weight Gain during Pregnancy. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.|
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|12.||↑||Law, Ruth, Caroline Maltepe, Pina Bozzo, and Adrienne Einarson. Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician. 2010.|
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|14.||↑||Zita West. Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2008.|
|15.||↑||Bernard Jensen. Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care. Penguin. 1998.|
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|17.||↑||Flaxman, Samuel M., and Paul W. Sherman. Morning sickness: a mechanism for protecting mother and embryo. The Quarterly review of biology. 2000.|
|18.||↑||Morning Sickness. American Pregnancy Association.|
|19.||↑||Schreyer, P., D. J. Sherman, M. G. Ervin, L. Day, and M. G. Ross. Maternal dehydration: impact on ovine amniotic fluid volume and composition. Journal of developmental physiology. 1990.|
|20.||↑||McCurdy Jr, C. M., and J. W. Seeds. Oligohydramnios: problems and treatment. In Seminars in perinatology 1993.|
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|22.||↑||National Research council. Recommended dietary allowances. National Academies Press, 1989.|
|23.||↑||Melzer, Katarina, Y. Schutz, Michel Boulvain, and B. Kayser. Pregnancy-related changes in activity energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate in Switzerland. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2009.|
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|27.||↑||C.P. Khare. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Springer Science & Business Media. 2008.|
|28.||↑||Causes and signs of edema. PubMed Health.|
|29.||↑||Kobayashi, Yoshinori, Kazuki Narita, Kotaro Chiba, Hiroaki Takemoto, Masahiko Morita, and Koji Morishita. Effects of L-citrulline diet on stress-induced cold hypersensitivity in mice. Pharmacognosy research. 2014.|