The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry has published findings from a joint research effort between scientists at the University of Kentucky and Purdue University regarding the health benefits of watermelon – that sweet summer favorite. According to researchers on the team, watermelon, native to South Africa, contains a number of influential substances including citrulline, a compound thought to protect against atherosclerosis. This high water content fruit is also touted for its ability to help with weight management. Watermelon is just another fruit, in a long line of researched fruits, including berries and apples that have proven effective in the promotion of health and protection from cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke.
Citrulline Prevents Heart Disease by Reducing Arterial Plaque Volume
Researchers used mice to mimic human biochemistry and found that a diet that included watermelon juice and fresh watermelon was highly beneficial to increasing cardiovascular health. When the study group was compared to the control group, it was determined that the citrulline in watermelon lowered dangerous levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol that had been attacked by free radicals. The amount of plaque build up on arterial walls was reduced, as was the overall animal weight.
Both the study group and the control group consumed a diet that was high in cholesterol and saturated fat. However, one group of mice drank water containing 2% watermelon juice while the other group drank water that contained a carbohydrate solution the same as watermelon juice. Oxidized LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by 50% in the group of mice that drank watermelon juice. These finding were similar to those found by researchers at Ohio State University who found apples lowered oxidized LDL cholesterol, as well.
Of even greater significance, the group that consumed a solution of only 2% watermelon juice showed a staggering 50% drop in their arterial plaque in addition to a high amount of citrulline circulating throughout their bodies.
More Health Benefits of Watermelon – Lose Weight
The study reported further good news when researchers discovered that mice that received the watermelon juice supplement gained 30% less weight than the control mice. More research from the University of Kentucky also pinpointed watermelon to be among foods for weight loss, finding that animals experiencing diet-induced high cholesterol given watermelon juice lost more abdominal fat than animals fed the same diet but with water.