While it’s essential for people with diabetes to consume watermelon juice in moderation due to its natural sugar content, there’s a diabetes-friendly secret hidden within this juicy fruit – its seeds. Watermelon seeds, often overlooked, are packed with multiple nutrients that are heart-friendly and help manage diabetes, say experts.
“Usually, the seeds of most fruits are densely packed with nutrients as they have to sprout and eventually grow into plants and trees,” says Dr Sabyasachi Mukhopadhyay, consultant cardiologist, Manipal Hospital, Goa.
According to experts, watermelon seeds are high in iron, fiber, protein and magnesium. Besides being rich in antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, they also contain vitamins B, C and E.
“The seeds contain healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These nutrients are beneficial for people with conditions like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune disease and even renal complications,” says Dr Mukhopadhyay. They are also low in calories and hence can be eaten as a snack by those aiming to lose weight.
Heart-healthy benefits of watermelon seeds
Dr Mukhopadhyay explains that when consumed as part of a healthy diet, watermelon seeds can help reduce high blood pressure as well as high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They contain MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that reduce bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. In addition, the magnesium present in these seeds helps regulate blood pressure.
Deepalekha Banerjee, dietician and founder of 360 Degree Nutricare (an e-clinic), says antioxidants present in these seeds act as vasodilators (they dilate or open the blood vessels), which help reduce high blood pressure. In addition, the iron present in watermelon seeds improves the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, while zinc helps regulate calcium movement in the heart.
Dr Sandeep Reddy, senior endocrinologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, explains that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart conditions. Consuming watermelon seeds could help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol as well as spikes in cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular complications.
Role of watermelon seeds in diabetes management
Watermelon seeds can help control blood sugar levels, making them a good snacking option for people with diabetes. They help improve insulin sensitivity (how responsive your cells are to insulin). Banerjee explains that magnesium also helps regulate carbohydrate metabolism, thereby managing blood sugar levels. “Magnesium is an essential micronutrient for insulin release and carbohydrate metabolism,” says Dr Reddy.
Experts say people with diabetes can consume both watermelon and its seeds in moderation. Dr Reddy explains that while watermelon is high in glucose, the glycemic load (estimates the expected increase in blood glucose levels after consumption) is less, and it also has a high water content. However, he cautions that it is important to avoid watermelon juice with added sugar.
Incorporating watermelon seeds into your diet
Banerjee explains that it is safe to consume both white and black watermelon seeds. In addition, Dr Reddy says these seeds are rich in micronutrients that are not usually present in our regular foods like rice, chapati or vegetables. Hence, it can be a good addition to your diet.
Watermelon seeds can be consumed raw or roasted. They can be extracted from the fruit and dried. Once dry, these seeds can be added to salads and sandwiches or eaten as a snack on their own.
- Watermelon seeds are rich in minerals and antioxidants that are beneficial for people with complications like cardiovascular conditions, hypertension, diabetes, renal issues and obesity.
- The magnesium present in these seeds helps regulate blood pressure. In addition, iron improves the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, while zinc helps regulate calcium movement in the heart.
- Besides improving insulin resistance, these seeds also regulate carbohydrate metabolism, thereby managing blood sugar levels.
- Watermelon seeds can be consumed as a snack. In addition, they can be dried and added to salads and sandwiches.