Watermelon is not only rich in nutrients, but is also found to lower pre-hypertension, a precursor to cardio diseases. According to assistant professor Arturo Figueroa and professor Bahram H Arjmandi of the Florida State University who conducted a study on the health benefits of watermelon, extracts of watermelon given for six weeks lowered blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive men and women between the ages of 51 and 57 years, a report in the American Journal of Hypertension says.
Figueroa said watermelon was the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide essential to regulate blood pressure.
Consumption of L-arginine as a dietary supplement was not an option as it caused nausea, gastrointestinal tract discomfort, and diarrhoea, he added.
The study participants said though, that watermelon consumption did not cause such problems. Apart from fibre, watermelon is also rich in vitamin A, B6, and C, potassium and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
The researchers said that amino acids in the fruit improved the performance of arteries and lowered blood pressure in the nine subjects with prehypertension.
According to the food scientists from Florida State University, the fruit may help prevent the progress of prehypertension too full-blown hypertension which is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
They said that consumption of L-citrulline supplements might lead to the reduction of the amount of antihypertensive drugs needed to control blood pressure.