Watermelon has a great reputation. You’re always told to eat a lot of it – and you sure won’t object! This refreshing fruit is a savior on a hot summer day as it t can hydrate your body, thanks to its 92% water content.
But like everything else, watermelons need to be eaten in moderation too. Eating too much can have these 4 side effects.
It’s no secret that watermelon will boost your hydration status. But it will also up your risk for diarrhea if you have too much. It is more likely if you’re taking medications like antibiotics and antacids, which mess with your digestive system.
A common cause of diarrhea from watermelon is the lycopene. This pigmented antioxidant gives watermelon its pretty red hue. However, eating a lot of it will cause watery stools. And since watermelon has 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes, it pays to be careful.
If you already eat lots of red fruits and veggies, go easy on the watermelon. One slice has 14.7 mg of lycopene, and the recommended amount is about 30 mg. Therefore, eating 2 – maybe 3 – slices each day should be fine.1
2. Irregular Heartbeat
Watermelon is rich in potassium, a mineral that controls your heart rate. One wedge has roughly 320 mg of potassium. And while this is far from the recommended daily intake of 4,700 mg, it can accumulate if you eat too many.
Usually, the kidney excretes extra potassium. But if you already have kidney problems, hyperkalemia may develop and cause irregular heart beats and palpitations. Overeating watermelon is also bad news if you eat a lot of bananas, oranges, and tomatoes. These fruits are already very high in potassium.
This side effect of watermelon can also crop up if you eat a high-protein diet. Many high-protein foods like fish and eggs are also high in potassium.2
3. High Glucose Level
If you’re diabetic, you might be wondering about the effect watermelon has on blood sugar. It does have a high glycemic index of 72, but its glycemic load is only 4.3 This means that a serving won’t do any harm. But if you overdo it? You’ll have a spike in glucose levels, which is never good news. So diabetics should always eat watermelon in moderation, like any other fruit that they are allowed to eat.
4. Liver Inflammation
Alcoholics should avoid eating too much watermelon. High levels of lycopene will interact with alcohol, causing liver inflammation. This effect can be dangerous, especially since the liver is already stressed out.4
Oxidative stress in the liver is also more likely when alcohol and lycopene mix.5
As with all foods, portion size is key. You won’t have side effects from watermelon or watermelon juice if you eat it in moderation. Keep your diet diverse and you’ll be just fine.
|↑1||How Lycopene Helps Protect Against Cancer. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.|
|↑2||Hyperkalemia. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑3||Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑4||Veeramachaneni, Sudipta, Lynne M. Ausman, Sang Woon Choi, Robert M. Russell, and Xiang-Dong Wang. “High dose lycopene supplementation increases hepatic cytochrome P4502E1 protein and inflammation in alcohol-fed rats.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 7 (2008): 1329-1335.|
|↑5||Xu, Youqing, Maria A. Leo, and Charles S. Lieber. “Lycopene attenuates alcoholic apoptosis in HepG2 cells expressing CYP2E1.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 308, no. 3 (2003): 614-618.|