Eating Watermelon Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Prostate Health

For men, taking care of your prostate health can prevent a lot of reproductive and sexual health issues. Your prostate — the walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum — is responsible for nourishing and transporting semen via seminal fluid and is also involved in the process of converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the hormone responsible for sexual growth in males, including the growth of facial hair.

A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats is one part of prostate care. Others include getting sufficient levels of vitamin D, exercising, managing stress, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and timely screening for cancer. 

On the topic of cancer, watermelon is one of the foods to eat to boost your prostate health. Lycopene, the antioxidant in watermelon (and other fruits and vegetables) that gives the fruit its red hue, has been linked with reducing a man's risk of prostate cancer. In fact, a 2020 study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy suggested that lycopene and its derivatives could potentially also be used in prostate cancer therapy. 

The connection between lycopene and prostate cancer prevention

Fruits and vegetables get their red, pink, orange, and yellow coloring from lycopene. It is a carotenoid that has been associated with bone health, cardiovascular health, hyperglycemia, and metabolic syndrome, in addition to preventing cancer. 

According to a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, lycopene works by enhancing the antioxidant response of prostate cells while also inhibiting the rapid growth of prostate cancer cells. The study also linked prostate cancer cell death (apoptosis) and reduced metastatic capacity of these malignant tumor cells with lycopene consumption. A 2023 study published in the journal Cancers suggested that an increased consumption of foods rich in lycopene and selenium (a mineral found in nuts, seafood, eggs, etc.) could help reduce your risk of prostate cancer and DNA damage that happens because of ionizing radiation and/or oxidative stress.

Watermelon is a rich source of lycopene. A cup and a half of the delicious and refreshing fruit contains about 9 to 13 milligrams, per the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition to being a food that can help prevent prostate cancer, watermelon has another unexpected effect when it comes to prostate health.

Watermelon could help with an enlarged prostate too

An enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), occurs with aging and certain changes in hormones and testicular cells. It's a common condition that could affect men if they live long enough. While it doesn't increase your risk of prostate cancer, its symptoms (e.g., weak urine stream, after-dribble of pee, being unable to fully empty your bladder, incontinence, frequent urination, and painful or bloody urine) could affect your quality of life.

Consuming watermelon can help improve symptoms of an enlarged prostate and even stop further enlargement, per an older study published in The Journal of Nutrition. In fact, watermelon is on the list of foods to include if you're trying to manage the symptoms of BPH, among other things like whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fish, and healthy fats. 

That being said, excessive watermelon intake can raise your blood sugar levels because of the fruit's high glycemic index (GI). For some people with sensitive digestive systems, this might cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea because of its high FODMAP content. Watermelon consumption might have an unexpected effect on your skin and digestion if you have an allergic reaction to the fruit. Although rare, a watermelon allergy can manifest in hives, itchy lips, tongue, and throat, coughing, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. At the end of the day, there are many natural ways men can boost their prostate health as they age, and consuming fruits like watermelon is just one piece of the puzzle.