Eating six grams of watermelon per day for six weeks can lower blood pressure values in middle-aged individuals, a small pilot study reveals.
According to the study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, watermelon can prevent pre-hypertension from advancing to full hypertension, a condition which contributes to stroke and heart attack.
Watermelon extract is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, an amino acid closely related to L-arginine which is responsible for regulating blood pressure values. While watermelon is well tolerated, the use of L-arginine as a dietary supplement can cause gastrointestinal tract discomfort, diarrhea and nausea, scientists noted.
Apart from the above mentioned vascular benefits, watermelon offers abundant amounts of vitamin C, B6, A, fiber and potassium along with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Functional foods such as watermelon are also believed to be capable of lowering blood glucose levels, the study found.
"Given the encouraging evidence generated by this preliminary study, we hope to continue the research and include a much larger group of participants in the next round," said lead researcher Arturo Figueroa.
"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…
The optimal dose appears to be four to six grams a day," said Figueroa.