A refreshing slice of watermelon is not just for summer, as new evidence shows it could reduce blood pressure
Eating watermelon can lower blood pressure and protect against prehypertension that can lead to heart disease, scientists claim.
Researchers have discovered that the fruit is rich in compounds that widen blood vessels and may cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In the small study, amino acids found in the fruit improved the performance of arteries and lowered blood pressure in each of nine subjects with prehypertension.
Taking L-arginine, the amino acid essential to maintaining healthy blood pressure, as a supplement is not an option for many adults because its side effects can include nausea, stomach pains and diarrhoea. In contrast, the study revealed no adverse effects from subjects eating watermelon.
High blood pressure, which affects more than 16 million men and women in the UK, doubles the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke and is blamed for more than 60,000 deaths a year.
Besides its vascular benefits, watermelon also provides abundant vitamin A, B6, C, fiber, potassium and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
Dr Arturo Figueroa, of Florida State University, who led the research said: ‘Given the encouraging evidence generated by this preliminary study, we hope to continue the research and include a much larger group of participants in the next round.’