WEBMD.COM’S ARTICLE “Health Benefits of Watermelon” promotes adding this delicious summer fruit treat by presenting 15 body-friendly reasons in a slideshow. Slide number 3 informs that “watermelon in rich in an amino acid called l-citrulline that may help move blood through your body and can lower blood pressure.”
L-Citrulline’s other potential positive health effects on skeletal muscle tissue may be of special interest to athletes, as discussed in a review article “L-Citrulline Supplementation: Impact on Cardiometabolic Health” by scientists from Louisiana State University and Pennsylvania State University:
Research studies that have investigated the effects of l-citrulline on blood pressure and other measurement of cardiovascular health identify watermelon as the food with the highest concentrations. Some have used watermelon extract or juice as supplements to boost the diets of research participants in their protocols. Watermelon’s Latin name is Citrullus lanatus.
The same review article cited above explains a bit more about the amount of l-citrulline found in watermelon. Concentrations in US-grown melons “can range from 1.6 to 3.5 g/kg of fresh watermelon” it states. The authors’ calculations show that to receive the minimum effective “dose” of this amino acid employed in research studies, about 2.2 to 3.3 pounds of fresh raw watermelon would need to be consumed daily. To receive the maximum dose, about 7.3-16.5 lbs/day would be needed. As a result, for scientific purposes, synthetic l-citrulline or watermelon extract is used for research supplementation studies.
Eating several pounds of watermelon each day might prevent intake of other healthy foods! So, although there are potential benefits to be gained from ingesting daily therapeutic doses of watermelon, a manageable serving of a slice or two provides a delightful sweet taste experience that can be enjoyed at any meal or snack time. In spite of a having high glycemic index value (72), the low sugar content in each serving (5 gm) adds up to a low glycemic load.
Other nutritious substances found in watermelon, also identified in the webmd.com slideshow, make this easy, go-to staple of summertime a wise fruit choice:
Vitamins A, C, and B6
The WebMD.com slideshow emphasizes other health-related reasons to frequently pick watermelon as a treat; there are benefits for skin, eyes, joints, and muscle.
Clearly summer is best season for buying fresh watermelon. References vary a bit on the exact recommended months, but June through August are a safe bet. Extending the season a month earlier and later might also be okay (May through September).
Personal preferences likely determine whether seeded or seedless are the most tasty. I love the visual contrast between the dark-blackish seeds and the beautiful red-pink flesh and white+ green rind. I don't mind that the traditional melons are larger and don't come in "personal sizes", as the seedless varieties are advertised in some stores. Slices are served on our dinner table along with other dishes to encourage eating by everyone, sometimes in place of a green salad. Those remaining on the plate after the meal are cut into bite-sized pieces of fruit-flesh only, and stored in the refrigerator for easy snacking.
If wishing to avoid serving fruit juices to children for hydration, try adding small cubes of watermelon and ice to water, sparkling or still (+ a spearmint leaf if you have a summer herb garden). Or just serve them watermelon whole or as a slushy made of the fruit; it's 92% water!
Consider having fun and experimenting with summertime watermelon for a healthy, muscle-friendly dietary treat.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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