Drop your blood pressure down a few notches by enjoying this pink, juicy picnic treat more often: watermelon.
Turns out watermelon is loaded with an amino acid called L-citrulline. And in a small study of prehypertensive people, this compound helped improve circulation and lowered people's systolic blood pressure by as much as nine points. Pretty sweet!
Nine points may sound like a small drop. But it's enough of a drop to prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension. And a drop in aortic systolic blood pressure is thought to be especially important in mitigating cardiovascular disease risk. In the study, not only did people's systolic blood pressure drop when they took a watermelon extract of L-citrulline and L-arginine, but their blood flow arterial function also improved compared with the placebo group. The watermelon extract used in the study contained approximately 2.7 grams of L-citrulline, which is the same amount you'd get from about seven cups of watermelon juice. That's a lot of juice. But other studies have shown blood pressure benefits with smaller amounts, so don't feel like you have to eat the whole melon.
Just what's so great about L-citrulline from watermelons? In the body, this compound gets converted into another amino acid that's key to the formation of nitric oxide -- that stuff that helps open and relax arteries. So whether you slice it, dice it, or juice it, you'll want some watermelon year-round, not just on your summer menu.