(NaturalNews) Watermelon is a classic summertime favorite packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and many other nutrients. And a new study out of Florida State University (FSU) has pinpointed a few specific amino acids present in watermelon that help improve arterial function and lower blood pressure.
According to FSU researchers, watermelon is rich in the amino acid L-citrulline, a precursor of L-arginine, that reverses the effects of prehypertension by maintaining arterial function and improving proper blood flow. Published in the journal American Journal of Hypertension, the study is the first of its kind to show this definitive benefit in humans.
"We are the first to document improved aortic hemodynamics in prehypertensive but otherwise healthy middle-aged men and women receiving therapeutic doses of watermelon," explained Arturo Figueroa, assistant professor at FSU and co-author of the study. "These findings suggest that this 'functional food' has a vasodilatory effect, and one that may prevent hypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease."
When consumed, L-citrulline is processed by the body into L-arginine, which is known to produce necessary nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide maintains healthy blood pressure levels and regulates vascular tone without inducing any negative side effects. And according to Figueroa, watermelon is the richest edible source of L-citrulline.
Both Figueroa and co-author Bahram Arjmandi described watermelon as a "functional" food, meaning it is "scientifically shown to have health-promoting or disease-preventing properties, above and beyond the other intrinsically healthy nutrients [it also supplies]."
"Individuals with increased blood pressure and arterial stiffness -- especially those who are older and those with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes -- would benefit from L-citrulline," said Figueroa. "The optimal dose appears to be four to six grams a day."