Is watermelon rind healthy to eat?

Quick answers

Watermelon rind is the green outer layer of a watermelon. Many people discard watermelon rinds, but they are actually edible and contain some health benefits. Here are some quick answers about eating watermelon rind:

– Watermelon rind contains antioxidants like lycopene and citrulline. These can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of some diseases.

– It contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, B6, magnesium, and potassium.

– Watermelon rind has a high water content, so it can help hydrate the body.

– The rind is a good source of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and bowel movements.

– It is low in calories, with only about 50 calories per cup of diced rind. This makes it a nutritious, low-calorie snack.

– Watermelon rind is safe to eat for most people. However, anyone with a watermelon allergy should avoid it.

– The rind can be eaten raw, pickled, or incorporated into recipes like stir fries, salsas, and smoothies. The white inner rind is the most tender and sweet.

Nutrition facts

Watermelon rind is low in calories but packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is the nutrition breakdown for 1 cup of diced watermelon rind (140 grams) [1]:

Calories 50
Fat 0.2 g
Sodium 2 mg
Potassium 303 mg
Carbohydrates 12 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugar 9 g
Protein 1 g

Some of the key vitamins and antioxidants in watermelon rind include [2]:

– Vitamin C: 12% Daily Value
– Vitamin A: 11% DV
– Lycopene: 5.8 mg
– Citrulline: 2.3 g

Lycopene and citrulline are two powerful antioxidant compounds found in watermelon rind.

Citrulline helps the body make arginine, an amino acid important for heart and immune health [3]. Lycopene is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, improved heart health, and protection against sun damage [4].

Water content

Watermelon rind consists of over 90% water [5]. This makes it very hydrating. Proper hydration is vital for all bodily functions including digestion, circulation, and regulation of body temperature.

Eating water-rich foods like watermelon rind can help meet daily fluid needs. This is especially important in hot climates or during vigorous exercise when hydration needs are higher.

Staying hydrated also keeps skin looking plump and youthful. So snacking on watermelon rind can be a tasty way to hydrate skin from the inside out.

Fiber content

While watermelon flesh is fiber-free, the rind contains some fiber. A 1-cup serving of diced rind has 1 gram of fiber [1].

The fiber in watermelon comes from the white inner rind, which is made of pectin [6]. Soluble pectin fiber helps slow digestion, promote satiety after meals, and feed the healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome [7].

Though it’s just a gram per serving, the fiber in watermelon rind can add up over the course of a day and help you meet the recommended 25-30 grams of daily fiber. This makes it a smart addition to a high-fiber diet.

Getting enough fiber promotes regular bowel movements and prevents digestive issues like constipation. Fiber also helps reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol levels for heart health [8].

Low calorie density

With only 50 calories per cup, watermelon rind is a low-calorie food. It is composed almost entirely of water and low-calorie carbohydrates like pectin fiber.

The low calorie density makes watermelon rind ideal for weight loss or maintenance. You can eat a large portion to feel full and satisfied, without overdoing it on calories.

In one study, eating water-rich foods like watermelon was linked to lower body weight over time compared to consuming water-poor foods [9]. The high water and fiber in watermelon rind can promote fullness and discourage overeating.

Antioxidant benefits

Watermelon rind contains beneficial plant compounds like lycopene and citrulline. These function as antioxidants in the body [2].

Antioxidants help neutralize unstable free radical molecules that can damage cells through oxidative stress. A diet high in antioxidants is associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive decline [10].

Lycopene specifically has been researched for its antioxidant effects:

– In a study on postmenopausal women, taking lycopene supplements for a year reduced oxidative stress markers by up to 50% [11]

– Men consuming a lycopene-rich diet showed a 55% decrease in prostate cancer risk compared to controls in one meta-analysis [12].

– Lab studies also indicate lycopene may protect skin against sunburn damage [13].

Meanwhile, citrulline helps recycle other antioxidants like vitamin C, enhancing their beneficial effects [14].

Overall, taking advantage of the antioxidants in watermelon rind is a smart way to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

May lower blood pressure

Watermelon rind contains citrulline, an amino acid that may help lower high blood pressure. When citrulline is metabolized, it increases levels of nitric oxide in the blood [15].

Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Multiple studies show citrulline supplements can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure [16].

While whole watermelon also contains citrulline, the rind is especially concentrated with it. In one study, the rind had a citrulline content of 5.18 mg/g compared to the flesh’s 2.16 mg/g [17].

Harnessing this high citrulline content can help manage high blood pressure. More research is needed to determine effective dosing through diet alone. But eating watermelon rind is likely advantageous for heart health.

Supports digestive health

Fiber and water are critical for optimal digestion. As discussed, watermelon rind provides both.

The fiber and water in the rind can relief constipation by adding bulk and moisture to stools. One study gave constipated patients 50 grams of date fruit and 150 ml of watermelon juice. Within 12 hours, the patients had increased bowel movements and softened stool [18].

The natural sugar in watermelon rind may also act as a prebiotic. Prebiotics help feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut microbiome. In a lab study, watermelon extract enhanced the growth of beneficial Bifidobacterium [19]. A diverse, thriving gut microbiome equals better digestive health.

Thanks to its fiber and hydrating nature, watermelon rind is great for your gut. It promotes regularity, optimal stool formation, and growth of probiotics.

Supports immune function

Watermelon rind packs a vitamin C punch, with 12% DV per cup [1]. Vitamin C is famous for boosting the immune system, especially during illness.

Getting enough vitamin C is linked to improved immune cell function and lower risk of infections like pneumonia [20]. Vitamin C supplements are also associated with a shorter duration of cold symptoms [21].

Lycopene and citrulline in watermelon may also benefit immunity. In lab studies, lycopene improved natural killer cell activity against cancer cells [22]. And citrulline increased antibody production from white blood cell cultures [23].

Though more human research is needed, the evidence indicates watermelon rind can support immune defense due to its antioxidant and vitamin C contents.

Potential downsides

Watermelon rind is safe for most people to consume. However, there are some potential downsides to consider:

– Pesticide residues – Watermelon rind may contain more pesticide residues compared to the flesh. Washing well can help remove residues.

– Allergies – Those with pollen-food allergy syndrome may react to watermelon rind. Anyone allergic to watermelon should avoid the rind.

– High glycemic index – Watermelon flesh and rind are high GI foods. Portion size is important, especially for those with diabetes.

– Citrulline conversion – Some people have a genetic variance that reduces their ability to convert citrulline to arginine. This affects the benefits.

– Medication interactions – Certain medications like Viagra and Cialis interact with citrulline, raising risk of side effects.

While quite low-risk, it’s wise to watch portion sizes of watermelon rind and be aware of potential medication interactions with citrulline. Those with diabetes or allergies should take extra care.

How to eat watermelon rind

The outer green rind and inner white rind are both edible. The white part is sweetest and most tender. There are endless ways to eat watermelon rind:

– Raw – The white rind can be sliced or diced to eat fresh. Add it to fruit salads.

– Pickled – Either sweet or sour pickled rind is delicious. This works for both green and white parts.

– Sauces – Blend rind into sauces like salsa verde, chimichurri, or pesto. The chlorophyll adds vivid green color.

– Stir fries – Dice rind and add it to stir fries for the last 5 minutes of cooking. It works in many savory dishes.

– Juiced – Add about 20% rind when juicing watermelon for extra nutrients.

– Infused water – Muddle sliced rind in a pitcher of water overnight for refreshing infused water.

– Soups – Puree cooked rind with broth for creamy soups. It works in sweet and savory recipes.

– Baked goods – Shred rind and incorporate it into cookies, breads, muffins, and other baked goods.

Watermelon rind requires little preparation beyond washing and slicing. The possibilities are endless for how to enjoy its crisp texture and mild sweetness.

Pickled watermelon rind recipe

Pickling is one of the most popular ways to preserve and savor watermelon rinds. The tart, salty brine balances out the rind’s sweetness. Try this easy pickled watermelon rind recipe:

– 3 cups peeled and sliced watermelon rind
– 1 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1⁄4 cup sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1⁄2 tsp peppercorns
– 1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds
– 1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds
– 1 bay leaf

1. Wash watermelon thoroughly and cut away outer green rind. Slice the white inner rind into 1⁄4-inch pieces.
2. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices to a boil. Let cool completely.
3. Pack sliced rind tightly into a jar, leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace. Pour cooled brine over rind.
4. Seal jar and refrigerate for at least 2 days before enjoying. The pickled rind will keep for up to 1 month.

The resulting pickled rind is tangy, lightly spiced, and perfect for snacking or adding texture to salads or grilled meats. Crunchy, sweet-tart watermelon rind takes pickled vegetables to the next level.


Watermelon rind is safe for most people, but some precautions are needed:

– Allergy – Anyone with an allergy to watermelon should avoid the rind. Cross-reactivity is common among those with pollen allergies.

– Medications – Drug interactions are possible with medications like Cialis and Viagra. Check with your doctor.

– Blood pressure – High doses of citrulline could potentially lower blood pressure too much. Monitor your intake if you have low blood pressure.

– Bloating – Overdoing it on rind may cause temporary bloating or diarrhea due to its fiber content. Drink plenty of water.

– Pesticides – Rinse rind well to remove potentially high pesticide residues. Peeling also helps. Opt for organic when possible.

To avoid issues, start with small portions of rind and watch for any symptoms. Introduce it slowly as part of a varied, whole food diet.

Storing watermelon rind

Proper storage is key to maximizing how long watermelon rind stays fresh:

– Whole rind – Uncut watermelon can store for 1-2 weeks at room temperature. Refrigerating whole melons prolongs shelf life slightly.

– Cut rind – Once cut, watermelon rind should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated. Use within 3-5 days.

– Cooked rind – Cooked rind or rind incorporated into other recipes can be refrigerated 3-4 days or frozen for several months.

– Canned/pickled – Properly canned or pickled watermelon rind remains shelf stable 1 year unopened. Refrigerate once opened.

Storing cut rind in an airtight container in the crisper drawer helps retain moisture to keep it crunchy. Blanching rind before use also helps it better hold texture during cooking.

Enjoy fresh when possible, and preserve excess rind by pickling, juicing, or freezing for extended use. With proper storage, none of this nutritious part of watermelon needs to go to waste.


While most people discard the rind, watermelon peel is completely edible and contains an impressive nutrition profile. The rind is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and water content without many calories.

Eating watermelon rind offers benefits like better heart health, digestion, immunity, and hydration. The peel can be eaten raw or incorporated into both sweet and savory recipes. However, those with allergies or certain medications should exercise caution.

Given its stellar nutrient stats and versatility, saving watermelon rinds instead of tossing them in the compost is a smart way to make the most of this summer fruit. Work them into your diet and start reaping the health perks of watermelon’s under-appreciated outer layer.

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