According to the CDC, 25 percent of U.S. adults are living with prehypertension, an elevated blood pressure level that is high but not quite high enough to be considered hypertension. If not addressed, this condition can lead to cardiovascular problems and other health conditions. A recent pilot study showed that watermelon supplementation may improve blood pressure in individuals with prehypertension.
Watermelon is rich in an amino acid called L-citrulline, which our bodies convert to L-arginine and nitric oxide, the precursor to something called endothelial nitric oxide synthesis. This synthesis signals very important communication between our cells and many bodily functions, notably blood pressure. Taking L-arginine supplements orally has been shown to reduce blood pressure and when researchers evaluated the effect of a watermelon supplement, they found an improvement on aortic blood pressure and arterial function in people with prehypertension.
Giving watermelon extract to hypertensive individuals may help further rise in blood pressure and related complications and negative effects on heart health. Since the group studied was so small, more research is needed to confirm whether these effects have any clinical significance. In the meantime, add this to the list of reasons to end a late-summer cookout with watermelon. Or how about starting with a watermelon gazpacho?
Some other summer foods that may lower blood pressure are tomatoes and spinach. Beans and whole grains can also improve levels, so why not top your black bean burger with a pile of veggies and opt for a whole grain bun? Salads are another way to work in some blood pressure-lowering fruits and veggies. Berries, which are at their peak in the summer, are packed with vitamins and antioxidants to help reduce blood pressure and boost heart health. Something to enjoy with that watermelon, perhaps?