Can You Eat Watermelon Seeds?

Can you eat watermelon seeds? Read on to find out if you really need to spit them out.

What child hasn’t experienced the soul-gripping fear of a watermelon growing in their tummy after accidentally swallowing one of the seeds? We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale growing up, but most of us never learned the answer to the age-old question—can you eat watermelon seeds?

Yes, it’s safe to eat watermelon seeds. This goes for both the white and black seeds found in most watermelons. In fact, just about every component of watermelon is safe to eat. Pickled watermelon rind, anyone?

Types of Watermelon Seeds

When you cut into a fresh watermelon, you’ll likely notice two kinds of seeds: black and white. So what’s the difference between them?

Black watermelon seeds are mature seeds that are fertile. This means that you could plant them in the ground and grow a watermelon plant, just like strawberry sprouts.

White watermelon seeds are immature seeds that are not yet fertile. If you planted them, they wouldn’t be ready to sprout into a plant. The white seeds often appear thinner and more translucent than the black ones. That’s because they’re still developing.

Benefits of Eating Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds can make a healthy snack. They’re a nutrient-dense food that’s naturally low in calories. A one-eighth cup serving has 4 grams of protein and only 75 calories. To compare, an egg has about 6 to 7 grams of protein. So it’s not one of the foods that have more protein than an egg, but it’s pretty close! Protein is filling, so this means that a small snack of watermelon seeds in the afternoon could keep you satisfied until dinner time.

Watermelon seeds are also rich in healthy fats. A one-eighth serving contains about 1 gram of monounsaturated fatty acids and 4 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating a moderate amount of these unsaturated fats every day. They’re known to lower the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Our bodies cannot produce unsaturated fats on their own, so we need to get them through our diets.

A one-eighth cup of watermelon seeds also contains 70 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for muscle and nerve function. Our bodies need magnesium to regulate blood pressure and control blood sugar levels. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends consuming 420 milligrams per day for adult men and 320 milligrams per day for adult women.

Finally, watermelon seeds are a good source of iron. A one-eighth cup serving contains 1 milligram of iron, an essential component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a red blood cell protein that is responsible for bringing oxygen to the lungs and tissues. The NIH recommends consuming 8 milligrams per day for adult men and 18 milligrams per day for adult women. The foods that are highest in iron are meat and seafood, so watermelon seeds could be a good iron source for vegetarians and vegans.

Now that we’ve covered all of the health benefits, are there any downsides to eating watermelon seeds? Depending on the size, watermelon seeds could pose a choking hazard for young children, so proceed cautiously. Eating a large number of watermelon seeds every day could lead to constipation, a natural side effect of iron. If you’d like to start snacking on watermelon seeds, start with a small serving and pay attention to how you feel.

How to Eat Watermelon Seeds

The best ways to enjoy watermelon seeds are either dried or roasted. Dried seeds add a nice crunch to salads and yogurt parfaits. They’re also lower in calories than the usual crunchy options like croutons or sugary granola.

Roasted watermelon seeds can be prepared the same way that you’d roast sunflower seeds. Heat your oven to 325°F and roast them for about 15 minutes. For a savory treat, toss them in olive oil and salt. Need something sweet? Try sprinkling them with a dash of cinnamon sugar.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.