Summer is here, so are watermelons! Do not miss the opportunity to pick one up, as a new research study has found that watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals. The study focused on 13 middle-aged, obese men and women who also suffered from high blood pressure. The study started with a simple concept.
More people die of heart attacks in cold weather because the stress of the cold temperatures causes blood pressure to increase and the heart has to work harder to pump blood into the aorta. To simulate cold weather conditions, one hand of the subject was dipped into 39 degree water (or 4 degrees celsius) while the team took their blood pressure and other vital measurements. "The pressure on the aorta (largest artery in the human body) and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract," said Arturo Figueroa, an associate professor at Florida State University.
Meanwhile, the group was divided into two. For the first six weeks, one group was given four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine per day, both from watermelon extract. The other group was given a placebo for six weeks.
Participants also had to refrain from taking any medication for blood pressure or making any significant changes in their lifestyle, particularly related to diet and exercise. The results showed that consuming watermelon had a positive impact on aortic blood pressure and other vascular parameters.
Notably, study participants showed improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress while both at rest and while they were exposed to the cold water. "That means less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure," Figueroa said in a paper published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
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