Watermelon may no longer be just for summer anymore thanks to Florida State University researchers that have found watermelon has the ability to reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals during cold exposure.
This new study started with a simple concept. Cold weather produces more heart attacks because the stress of the cold temperatures can cause changes to your heart by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. People with obesity and high blood pressure face a higher risk for stroke or heart attack when exposed to the cold either during the winter or in rooms with low temperatures.
So how do you avoid heart problems in the cold? The answer may be in watermelon which has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
In this new study Dr. Arturo Figueroa, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, at Florida State University , Tallahassee, and colleagues examined the effect of L-citrulline-rich watermelon supplementation on blood pressure responses to cold pressor test (CPT) in hypertensive adults.
This twelve week study included 13 obese men and women (10 women), middle aged and had high blood pressure. In order to stimulate cold weather conditions; participants underwent the cold pressor test (one hand of participant is placed in cold water; 39 degree) during which the research team took participants blood pressure and other vitals.
Participants were randomized into two groups. Group one was given four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine per day derived from watermelon extract for a period of six weeks and the other group received a placebo.
The groups were then switched for another six weeks.
During the study participants did not take any blood pressure medication or make any significant changes to their life style especially related to diet and exercise.
The results showed watermelon supplementation had reduced aortic BP and myocardial oxygen demand during CPT. Participants showed improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress while at rest and during cold exposure.
According to Dr. Figueroa “That means less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure.”
The researchers write in their conclusion “Watermelon supplementation reduced aortic BP and myocardial oxygen demand during CPT and the magnitude of the cold-induced increase in wave reflection in obese adults with hypertension. Watermelon may provide cardioprotection by attenuating cold-induced aortic hemodynamic responses.”
Dr. Figueroa has conducted multiple studies on the benefits of watermelon In the past, including a 2010 study that showed that watermelon supplementation improved arterial function and consequently lowered aortic blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and postmenopausal women.
This study is published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
This study is also published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and was one of the “top new hypertensive articles” in MDLinx.
Materials provided by Florida State University