Watermelon Has Lycopene, Too

Published on: 
Nutritional Outlook, Volume 17, Issue 9

How does watermelon lycopene compare to tomato lycopene?

Tomatoes enjoy nutritional fame for, among other useful compounds, their rich sources of lycopene. But watermelons have lycopene, too-and theirs might even be more effective.

Hoping to get a better understanding of watermelon nutrients, a team of Korean researchers compared tomato lycopene and watermelon lycopene using a series of assays designed to assess the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory potential of each lycopene compound. Compared to tomato lycopene, the lycopene in watermelon showed greater antioxidant activity in scavenging radicals such as DPPH and superoxide anion. The watermelon lycopene showed significant anti-inflammatory activity, as well. On human cells, it lowered expressions of common inflammatory biomarkers, such as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX-2), in a dose-dependent fashion.

The full results of the study are available in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology, and they should come as a welcome sign to manufacturers of watermelon juices and extracts that can even be based on watermelon rind. While watermelon juice can provide a tasty means of delivering the fruit’s lycopene content, researchers have warned of the possible loss of lycopene (and red color) during watermelon juice production. To mitigate the loss, a non-centrifuge juicing process may be best.

Watermelon is a valuable fruit for its many other nutrients, too, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the amino acid L-citrulline.

Robby Gardner
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook magazine

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