It turns out that story Mom used to tell you about watermelon seeds sprouting fruit in your stomach was all just a myth. While we’ll assume you’ve realized this already, have you ever wondered if the seeds are actually safe to eat?
Well, not only are the seeds safe to consume, but they contain a lot of nutrients that you definitely don’t want to waste (okay, maybe spitting a few at your sibling is fine — just for the sake of nostalgia). Here’s what you need to know about eating those little black seeds dotting the fleshy part of this delicious summer fruit.
“We’re seeing a increase in the popularity of watermelon seeds on their own, which is interesting because 90 percent of the watermelons nowadays are seedless,” said Stephanie Barlow, Senior Director of Communications for The National Watermelon Promotion Board. “But if you can get your hands on a juicy, seeded watermelon, the seeds are perfectly fine to swallow.”
“Everyone from nutritionists to people who are all about clean eating and whole eating, and people trying to minimize food waste are all for eating the seeds,” said Barlow. “The watermelon is 100 percent edible from seed to rind, and doing so is more common these days.”
BLACK WATERMELON SEEDS VS. WHITE WATERMELON SEEDS
You may have heard that the white seeds are safe to eat, but the black seeds aren’t — or maybe even vice versa — but no need to spit out either (unless of course you want to practice your distance). Black, white and any seeds that fall somewhere in between with a grey or reddish tints, are all safe to eat. Darker seeds are mature and fertile, while the soft white seeds are just empty seed coats, explained Barlow. The black seeds can produce other watermelons, while the white ones cannot, but all of the seeds are edible.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING WATERMELON SEEDS
The USDA National Nutrient Database hosts a profile for dried watermelon seeds on its website. Watermelon seeds are packed with protein and loaded with nutrients like magnesium, which helps with the body’s metabolic functions, and potassium which helps the nervous and muscular systems communicate, adding to its function as a natural hydrator.
“Watermelon does have a wonderful health halo,” said Barlow. “They are 92 percent water and can hydrate better than some sports drinks out there. They help with blood flow and with lowering blood pressure.”
The flesh of the melon has cancer-fighting lycopene, antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins A, B6 and C along with the benefit of being a low-sodium, fat-free snack. The seeds only add to the healthy nature of the refreshing fruit, and definitely don’t take anything away.
WHY SPROUT THE SEEDS FIRST?
To unlock the full nutritional treasure chest of watermelon seeds, they should first be sprouted, shelled and dried, rather than just eaten fresh with the fruit. Sprouted seeds (or legumes or grains) often become richer in nutrients during the process.
Just one ounce of sprouted watermelon seeds contains 10 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 160 calories, and 11 grams of fat. Sprouting removes compounds in the seeds that make them difficult for the body to absorbs their nutrients, while also making the seed easier to digest.
“Once shelled the seeds can be compared almost to a slivered almond. They have a nice taste,” said Barlow.
Watermelon seeds can also be roasted in the oven on high heat with a bit of olive oil and sea salt, for an easier alternative, but they won’t have as many nutrients. If you are interested in sprouting seeds at home, a little Googling is all you’ll need. To get you started, here’s an instructional guide from Vertical Veg.
And try this delicious watermelon feta salad this summer. Possibly even top with a sprinkling of your new sprouted seeds!
Also see, watermelon popsicles are a perfect summer treat.