Is it bad to eat watermelon seeds?

Watermelon seeds can be eaten: they do not cause intestinal problems, they are very rich in fiber, and have other very interesting nutritional properties.

Seedless watermelons are the hit of the summer. For a few years, its presence has been increasing in supermarkets and greengrocers. But this, which for many people is so practical and advantageous, is also a loss because the seeds of watermelons have very interesting nutritional properties for health. Is it advisable to eat them? What nutrients do they provide? Are there seeds that we should not eat? We answer these questions in the following lines.

When buying a watermelon, many people value that it does not have seeds. Seedless watermelons are more comfortable to eat and give greater peace of mind to those who still think that consuming these seeds causes intestinal problems, such as appendicitis or diverticulitis. However, there are also those who prefer watermelons with seeds, precisely because they eat them. Does it make sense to do this? Apparently yes.

What do watermelon seeds provide?

Watermelon seeds “are a considerable source of dietary nutrients and may have health and economic benefits due to their content of fiber, minerals, phenolics, and antioxidant activity .” This is indicated by a study carried out in 2016 and published in the  International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

The results of the research, in which three varieties of watermelon were analyzed, indicate that the seeds contain the following elements of nutritional interest:

  • Water (up to 8.5%)
  • Carbohydrates (between 9.5% and 15.3%)
  • Proteins (between 16.3% and 17.7%)
  • Fats (between 26.5% and 27.8%)
  • Fiber (between 39% and 43.2%)
  • Minerals  (especially potassium ), are followed by appreciable amounts of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, and zinc.
  • In addition, watermelon seeds provide energy: 100 grams of these seeds contain, on average, about 360 kcal.

Do watermelon seeds cause intestinal problems?

Watermelon seeds provide beneficial nutrients for health. Now, is it true that eating them can cause intestinal problems? Miguel A. Lurueña, Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology, explains in this article that no. “It is said that this could cause appendicitis due to the accumulation in the appendix of the indigestible remains of said seeds, but the truth is that it is very unlikely. A study investigated the issue by analyzing the appendix of almost 2,000 operated people and only found undigested plant remains in one of them », he points out.

Watermelon Seeds
Watermelon Seeds

“Watermelon seeds can be eaten without any problem,” adds dietician-nutritionist Beatriz Robles, also an expert in food safety. “It is important to clarify that, contrary to popular belief, eating seeds does not increase the risk of suffering from intestinal conditions such as diverticulitis and that the clinical practice guidelines of the American Association of Gastroenterology do not find evidence to prohibit them in a general way in these patients”, details.

How to eat watermelon seeds?

The usual thing is to consume them as they are, along with the fruit, with each bite. But if this is uncomfortable or strange for us, we can also roast them. After drying them in the oven (at 150-160 ºC for about 15 minutes), we can consume them as a healthy snack (as if they were sunflower or pumpkin seeds) or chop them to add them to other recipes, as we do with nuts in the salads.

Do you have to take precautions?

The main precautions must be taken with young children, who should not eat watermelon seeds, especially to avoid choking. On the other hand, watermelon seeds contain amygdalin —a cyanide precursor— which, in this case, is released when we chew them raw, not when they are swallowed whole (unlike other seeds that do cause problems when swallowed, in digestion).

What seeds should I not eat?

Watermelon seeds are good for health and their consumption does not entail any risk to the intestine. However, there are other seeds from everyday foods that we should not eat due to their levels of toxicity. “Some plants contain toxic compounds that accumulate mainly in the seeds, while in the edible part they appear in residual amounts and do not pose a problem,” explains Robles. And he gives us some examples.

“The seeds of apples, cherries, peaches, plums, pears, or apricots contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are transformed into hydrogen cyanide when we chew or digest them. They are also present in the cassava meat, but processing destroys them,” says the expert. For this reason, cassava should not be eaten raw, nor should these other foods.

In addition, ” lychee seeds contain hypoglycin A and methylene cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG), two amino acids that can cause hypoglycemia and encephalopathy,” explains Robles. He also indicates a curiosity: “Strictly speaking, legumes are seeds and contain some ‘ antinutrients ‘ such as lectins, which prevent the absorption of some nutrients and are toxic at high doses, or phytates, which prevent the absorption of some minerals”. Should we stop consuming them or worry about this? No. Legumes are very beneficial foods for health, “lectins are eliminated by cooking and phytates by soaking”.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Back to top button

We need Your Help!

If you enjoy our content, please support our site by disabling your ad blocker. We depend on ad revenue to keep creating quality content for you to enjoy for free.