Watermelon contains compounds that may benefit the entire body by supporting cardiovascular and metabolic health, according to a new review paper written by Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman and colleagues from Illinois Institute of Technology.
“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,” said Dr. Burton-Freeman.
The research shows that watermelons are not just water, but contain important vitamins, minerals and amino acids as well. Citrulline and arginine – two amino acids found in watermelon – are precursors for nitric oxide, which is important for blood pressure regulation, lipid reduction, and glucose control. Along with other chemicals such as lycopene (also found in tomatoes), this suggests that eating watermelon may support a healthy heart and metabolism.
The scientists reviewed preclinical and clinical research from the year 2000 to 2020 to look at the effects of watermelon and citrulline, including the cardio and metabolic impacts. The scientists concluded that citrulline and arginine are important for cardio-metabolic health, and that polyphenols, lycopene, potassium and magnesium contribute as well. All of these nutrients are found in watermelons.
There is a possible downside to not eating watermelon or other fruits. According to the research, low fruit consumption is one of the factors associated with death from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This is regardless of age, sex, or socioeconomic status.
Research also suggests that eating a variety of fruit helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain amounts of some fruits help prevent cardiovascular disease as well.
Further investigation is needed to determine the amount of watermelon needed to reap the health benefits. The researchers identified other potential benefits from watermelon consumption as well, including body weight control, glucose control, and brain and gut health. Future studies could follow up to confirm these possible links.
The review is published in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports.