Watermelon water: ‘super’ water or ‘super’ joke?
A couple of years ago, birch water was set to be the next ‘super’ water, usurping coconut water from its exotic throne. But, then there was cactus, aloe and maple waters. This week it’s watermelon water.
Beyonce’s on board with it, it’s being marketed as a ‘natural viagra‘ and it retails for about $4 for 500ml or $7 for 1 litre (compare this with about $4-5 for one litre of coconut water and about $2.75 for one litre of bottled water).
It is no wonder beverage manufacturers are hoping we drink the watermelon Kool Aid like we did the coconut Kool Aid.
Consider what happened with the coconut water craze: The global market for coconut water was $533 million in 2011. By 2016, it hit $2.2 billion, according to Euromonitor International.
I have to say the whole thing smells a little less like ‘super’ water and more like ‘super’ hopeful to me.
Why not just eat the whole fruit or drink water and save yourself some cash? Besides watermelon has been a staple at kid’s parties and on summer’s days forever, why is it all of a sudden ‘super’?
Kara Landau, accredited practising dietitian and founder of Travelling Dietitian, is less sceptical.
“I think people may enjoy consuming watermelon water as a sugar sweetened water replacement, however I definitely think if people enjoy consuming watermelon as a whole fruit this is a great option too to stay hydrated and attain the nutritional benefits,” she said.
“The key benefits of watermelon water over many of the other juices and sugar-filled beverages on the market is that it is 100 per cent natural, has no added sugar, and based on watermelon being a fruit that is 92 per cent water, the end product is still naturally going to be quite low in calories.”
As for some of the nutritional claims watermelon water makers make, Landau says some hold up better than others.
They promote the anti-oxidant lycopene, she said you can get “far greater quantities” by adding a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste in your cooking.
“As for potassium, you would obtain less than half of the potassium you naturally find in a medium banana in a cup of watermelon juice, and Vitamin C, which is another nutrient that watermelon water often boasts it is rich in, is not a vitamin that we are often lacking in our diets, considering the vast number of foods in the diet that it can be found,” Landau said.
She added that watermelon also contains non-essential amino acid, L citrulline which converts to other essential amino acids, such as L-arginine, and nitric oxide.
“L-citrulline can assist with helping your arteries to relax, and therefore blood flow, and the corresponding blood pressure lowering and improvements,” Landau explained. “Nitric oxide is often promoted as being beneficial for exercise, however studies show mixed results in this regard, and therefore dosage requirements are not always 100 per cent clear.
“For this reason, incorporating watermelon, a food source of naturally occurring L-citrulline, may be beneficial on this front.”
It is less beneficial on your wallet’s front. It may, however, be a way for those obsessed with soft drinks and sugary drinks and already paying a dear price for those (financially and with their health) to transition to a healthier alternative.
“Overall, watermelon water is a healthy inclusion in the diet, however it often comes with a price tag that based on nutrient provision alone, is not going to be necessary for everyone,” Landau said. “For those that would enjoy the flavour, and would typically select a sugar sweetened beverage or not drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, watermelon water is a healthier alternative to some of the other sugar sweetened or artificially flavoured products on the market, and could help some people reach their fluid requirements for the day.”
Or just drink water and eat your veg.
How does watermelon water compare?
Watermelon water is apparently different from plain old pre-packaged watermelon juice in that it doesn’t contain the same additives. But how does it differ to any of the other ‘super’ waters on the market.
“Each provide slight variations in the micronutrient benefits they can offer, and for this reason, I think people should look at it from the perspective of both which do they enjoy the most that will lead to them going back to it as an alternative to sugary drinks, as well as which micronutrients are they trying to boost up,” Landau said.
“For example aloe water can have prebiotic benefits, birch water is particularly rich in manganese, whereas watermelon water offers a dense source of lycopene.”
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