March 25, 2014
Obese People May Lower Their Blood Pressure With Watermelon: Study
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Watermelon, a favorite summertime treat for kids and adults everywhere, could save the lives of many more people battling high blood pressure, according to new research from Florida State University Professor Arturo Figueroa.Publishing a paper in the American Journal of Hypertension, Figueroa and colleagues have found that the juicy sweet member of the berry family could significantly lower blood pressure in overweight individuals during rest and when under stress.
“The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract,” Figueroa said in a statement.
The researchers explained the facts leading up to their finding are simple. Stress from cold weather causes blood pressure to increase, making the heart work harder to pump blood into the aorta, which often leads to less blood flow to the heart and the increased risk of death due to heart attack. In people with obesity and high blood pressure, the risk is more pronounced for stroke or heart attack when exposed to the cold during the winter or air-conditioned rooms in the summer.
The new research shows that watermelons may play a critical part in helping overweight people overcome these risk factors.
The 12-week study focused on 13 middle-aged, obese men and women who suffered from high blood pressure. To simulate cold weather conditions, the research team had participants dip one hand into 39 degree water while they took blood pressure readings and other vitals.
The team then divided the participants into two groups. For the first six weeks of the study, one group was given four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine per day, both of which come from watermelon extract. The other group received a placebo for six weeks.
After the initial six-week period, Figueroa’s team switched the groups for the next six weeks.
During the course of the study, participants had to refrain from taking any medications for blood pressure or making any significant changes in their lifestyle, including diet and exercise changes.
After the 12-week study concluded, Figueroa and his colleagues discovered that consuming the amino acids from watermelon extract had a positive impact on aortic blood pressure and other vascular conditions.
The team noted that the participants showed improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress while they were at rest and also during the cold water stress test.
“That means less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure,” Figueroa concluded.