February 6, 2009

Watermelon juice may be key to weight loss

An amino acid found in watermelon juice, nuts and other foods may fight obesity, U.S. researchers say.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, finds rats fed either low-fat or high-fat diets supplemented with the amino acid arginine over a 12-week period decreased body fat by over 60 percent.

This finding could be directly translated into fighting human obesity. At this time, arginine has not been incorporated into our food but could in the future, study leader Guoyao Wu of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, said in a statement. Given the current epidemic of obesity in the United States and worldwide, our finding is very important.

Wu says research in pigs suggests that dietary arginine supplementation reduces fat growth while increasing muscle gain without affecting body weight.

Additionally, research shows other metabolic benefits of arginine may be it can stimulate the biochemical process of muscle protein synthesis and it reduces serum concentrations of branched-chain amino acids. Elevated levels of branched-chain amino acids are linked to insulin resistance, Wu explained.

Other foods rich in arginine, include seafood, seeds, algae, meats, rice protein concentrate and soy protein isolate, Wu says.