FLORIDA: Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is common for many of us from time to time and it has often been the practice of doctors to treat high blood pressure by prescribing dangerous statin drugs. Now, researchers have found that healthy watermelons can do just as good of a job without all the nasty side effects, which have been linked to statin drugs.
In a study just published in the American Journal of Hypertension, food scientists at Florida State University found that consumption of six grams of L-citrulline extract from watermelon extract for six weeks normalized the blood pressure of all nine adults in the study who previously had elevated blood pressure.
“We are the first to document improved aortic hemodynamics in pre-hypertensive but otherwise healthy middle-aged men and women receiving therapeutic doses of watermelon,” said Dr. Arturo Figueroa, lead researcher of the new study. “These findings suggest that this ‘functional food’ has a vasodilatory effect, and one that may prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes,” added Figueroa
The large watermelon fruit is the richest edible source of the amino acid L-citrulline, which regulates healthy blood pressure. L-citrulline is converted to another amino acid, L-arginine, once in the body. However, taking L-arginine as a dietary supplement can cause nausea, gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea, especially among adults who already suffer from raised blood pressure.
“Individuals with increased blood pressure and arterial stiffness – especially those who are older and those with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes – would benefit from L-citrulline in either the synthetic or natural (watermelon) form,” Figueroa said.
Helping lower and control blood pressure is just one of many health benefits for the large summertime favorite. Watermelons have the highest water content of any fruit and, in addition to being a supreme thirst quencher, are excellent sources of several vitamins: vitamin A, an antioxidant which helps maintain eye health; vitamin C, which strengthens immunity, heals wounds, prevents cell damage, and promotes healthy teeth and gums; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy.
Tomatoes have been highly advertised as a great source for lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Watermelon, however, has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable.
Watermelons also have plenty of thiamine, magnesium, and potassium which are all vital for optimal health. Thus if your children, or perhaps yourself, are reluctant to dig into spinach, other dark green leafy vegetables or lima beans on a regular basis, servings of watermelon would be a very healthy substitute – and would make a healthy addition at any rate.
Watermelons help muscle and nerve function and help maintain the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base balance. They also reduce the risk of colon cancer, asthma, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Watermelons are also excellent for kidney health as it can both flush the kidneys and dissolve kidney stones. One of the most popular and effective natural remedies for kidney stones is a tea made from watermelon seeds, though often the juice alone in plentiful quantities will do the trick.
A good one-way to cleanse both the colon and the kidneys is to go an entire day consuming nothing but watermelon. Besides flushing the kidneys it will also usually clean out the colon as well – so well, in fact, that a good piece of advice is to not stray too far from available toilet facilities from about mid-afternoon on when doing a watermelon flush.