Why Watermelon Is a Super Summer Health Food
Summer means picnics and barbeques, and these food events aren’t complete without watermelon. In addition to being a refreshing sweet treat, watermelon also is a super summer health food. Here’s why, along with a few ways to enjoy watermelon and its benefits.
Why watermelon is so super
Before I tell you about how you can enjoy watermelon this summer (and year round), it’s important to know about the fruit’s hidden health benefits, which are associated with the presence of an amino acid called citrulline. One such benefit has just been reported in the journal Menopause.
The researchers from Florida State University studied the impact of a citrulline-rich watermelon supplement on blood pressure in obese postmenopausal women. The 12 women in the study took 6 grams of citrulline/arginine or a placebo daily for six weeks and then crossed over.
Citrulline is closely related to arginine, the amino acid that is necessary for the formation of nitric oxide, which is necessary to regulate healthy blood pressure. Use of the watermelon supplement reduced arterial stiffness and blood pressure in the postmenopausal women.
In another study, researchers at Florida State University evaluated people with prehypertension (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and their intake of a watermelon extract containing citrulline/arginine. After taking 6 grams of the watermelon extract daily for six weeks, all the participants showed an improvement in blood pressure.
According to one of the study’s authors, Professor Arturo Figueroa, use of the watermelon supplement may allow people with high blood pressure to reduce their use of antihypertensive drugs. “Even better, it may prevent the progression from prehypertension to hypertension in the first place,” he noted.
Yet another study found that watermelon juice fed to mice significantly lowered bad cholesterol (50% lower than in control mice) and also resulted in 50 percent less accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
For men in particular, watermelon has a special advantage. A study published in a 2011 issue of Urology reported that half the men with mild erectile dysfunction who took 1.5 grams of citrulline daily for one month experienced an improvement in erectile function.
How to enjoy watermelon
Here are some simple ways to enjoy watermelon and its health benefits this summer and year round.
Cool As a Cucumber Watermelon Cocktail
8 cups of frozen watermelon cubes
1 cup ginger ale (regular or diet)
½ cup water
1 seedless cucumber, skinned and cut into cubes
1 6-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
Place half of each of the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth and pour into a pitcher. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients. You can reduce this recipe by half. Serves 8
Watermelon and Tomato Delight
3 cups seeded watermelon cubes
1 pound tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ tsp salt
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, sliced thin
½ cup button mushrooms, cut in halves
1/8 cup virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp oregano
Combine the watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and mushrooms in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. In a shaker, combine the oil, vinegar, and oregano. Shake well and pour over the salad. Chill and serve. Serves 4
2 cups frozen seedless watermelon cubes
1 cup frozen cantaloupe or honeydew cubes
1 cup sparkling cider or seltzer water
1 Tbs sugar
Juice from one lime
Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You may need to add more sugar or honey to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6
Be sure watermelon is on your menu this summer and all year round to enjoy both the delicious flavor and its super health benefits.
Cormio L et al. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology 2011 Jan; 77(1): 119-22
Figueroa A et al. Effects of watermelon supplementation on arterial stiffness and wave reflection amplitude in postmenopausal women. Menopause 2013 May; 20(5): 573-77