Watermelons offer widespread health benefits, study confirms

CHICAGO, Ill. — Just in case you had any doubts, watermelons are delicious and offer a wide array of health benefits. A new study finds the watermelon is quite unique in the sense that it contains various compounds that benefit multiple bodily areas. From cardiovascular benefits, to improved metabolic health, watermelons have something healthy to offer everyone.

Conducted by a team at the Illinois Institute of Technology, this comprehensive research review concludes making watermelons a regular part of one’s diet may help promote greater overall health.

“Research is unveiling the health-promoting potential of watermelon. The current literature review provides evidence that watermelon intake and citrulline supplementation lower blood pressure in human trials. Although more research is needed, favorable effects on lipids/lipoprotein metabolism are emerging based on the data we reviewed and reported in preclinical models,” says lead author Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., in a media release.

Watermelons are full of nutrients

This latest research reveals that watermelons contain amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins. More specifically, watermelons offer two distinct amino acids known as citrulline and arginine. Scientists view both of those amino acids as “precursors” to nitric oxide, which is an integral molecule when it comes to controlling blood pressure, lipid reduction, and glucose control.

Polyphenols and carotenoids, especially lycopene, are all also found in great numbers in watermelons. Study authors explain that the nitric oxide benefits of citrulline and arginine, combined with the bioactivity of polyphenols and carotenoids, indicate watermelons are likely an effective way to help support normal cardio-metabolic health.

The research team analyzed both preclinical and clinical trial evidence published on watermelons between 2000 and 2020. Their main objective was to investigate the relationship between eating watermelons and citrulline levels on subsequent cardiovascular and metabolic health outcomes. Additionally, scientists set out to identify any specific dietary guidelines for eating watermelons that will produce desirable health outcomes as efficiently as possible.

Some of the studies focused on watermelons as a whole, but others were more focused to citrulline supplementation.

All in all, researchers conclude that watermelons provide “a combination of nutrients and phytochemicals working across multiple mechanisms to induce biological effects.” Importantly, citrulline, arginine, potassium, magnesium, lycopene, and polyphenols are all integral to these health benefits.

Further research is necessary to determine the ideal watermelon portion size across ages, demographics, and other factors. The study also suggests watermelons can benefit various additional body functions as well, such as brain health and bodyweight control. Still, the general message is clear: watermelons taste great and are also great for our bodies.

The findings appear in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports.

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