Something inside a watermelon may help prevent heart attacks. And though they're exceptionally fun to spit, it's not the seeds.
A new study by Florida State University Associate Professor Arturo Figueroa, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that watermelon extract may significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals. The study was noted on sciencedaily.com.
The study focused on the amino acids L-citrulline and L-arginine, extracted from watermelon. A Japanese study last year suggested L-citrulline may relieve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
In the new study, researchers tried to replicate cold weather situations, as more people die of heart attacks in cold weather, as cold temperatures raise blood pressure, forcing the heart to work harder.
Figueroa's 12-week study focused on 13 middle-aged, obese men and women who also suffered from high blood pressure. To simulate cold weather conditions, one hand of the subject was dipped into 39 degree water while researchers took their blood pressure and other vital measurements, (a technique remniscent of the old slumber party trick to make the poor kid who nodded off first wet the sleeping bag. The researchers did not do this. Or tell ghost stories.).
The subjects were divided into two. For the first six weeks, one group was given four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine per day, both from watermelon extract. The other group was given a placebo for 6 weeks. Then, they switched for the second six weeks.
Study participants showed improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress while both at rest and while they were exposed to the cold water.
"That means less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure," Figueroa said in a release from Florida State University.