HomeHealthSweet fruit that can protect (and even boost) your heart

Sweet fruit that can protect (and even boost) your heart

When it comes to a heart healthy diet, the recommended foods can sometimes be a little boring and kind of a slog to eat. Now, two recent studies have identified a sweet fruit that can boost your heart and your overall health that may be a little easier to stomach.

Eating a fresh slice of watermelon conjures up mental images of warm summer days. The deliciously sweet fruit has a refreshing and cooling effect that many of us enjoy.

Beyond their sweet taste, watermelons are packed with nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C and magnesium; and antioxidants such as lycopene and l-citrulline.

Previous research has demonstrated regular consumption of watermelon is linked to lower risks of prostate, lung and breast cancers, as well as lower cholesterol and body weight.

Now, two studies published in the journal Nutrients have revealed watermelon can do even more for your heart.

Watermelon improves nutrient absorption

The first, published late last year, found that consuming between 125 and 161 grams of watermelon per day was associated with a 5 per cent higher intake of dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A as well as a more than 5 per cent lower intake of added sugars and total saturated fatty acids.

Researchers analysed data from 56,133 individuals collated between 2003 and 2018. Around 98 per cent of participants consumed raw watermelon, and two per cent consumed watermelon juice.

The study controlled for factors including physical activity, poverty-income ratio (PIR), smoking status and alcohol intake. They also controlled for the consumption of other foods, including total vegetables, non-watermelon fruits, and dairy intake.

Essentially, the study suggests a higher intake of watermelon helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively, which in turn has the effect of significantly reducing your risk of cardiovascular events.

However, the researchers conceded in their findings that consuming watermelon may also be linked to a better diet and healthier lifestyle overall, which also lowers heart disease risk.

Watermelon juice can regulate your heart

The second Nutrients study, published in February, focuses on the effects of drinking watermelon juice on your heart. This study found drinking the juice can have a material effect on your heart rate variability (HRV), slowing it down and making it more regular.

HRV is a measure of the time interval between your individual heartbeats and is measured in milliseconds. A normal, healthy heart doesn’t beat evenly like a metronome, but instead changes rhythm with every beat.

Some heart conditions result in an increase in variation (high HRV), while others cause the intervals between beats to stay more constant (low HRV). So you don’t want your HRV to be too low or high, but rather somewhere in the middle.

Consuming high quantities of sugar is known to lower HRV, reduce vascular function and microvascular blood flow. These effects are thought to be caused by reduced nitric oxide bioavailability in the body.

The researchers wanted to know whether drinking watermelon juice could increase levels of nitric oxide after consuming a large amount of sugar, as it contains high levels of the amino acid l-citrulline, which in turn promotes the formation of nitric oxide.

To find out, they recruited 18 healthy adults with an average 23 years of age and had an average weight of 66kgs.

Participants were randomly assigned to either drink 500ml of watermelon juice or a placebo every day for two weeks.

After the two-week trial, the researchers found that drinking watermelon juice can significantly reduce the number of HRV readings that differ by 50ms or more.

Do you eat watermelon regularly? Have you ever tried watermelon juice? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Almost half can’t identify heart attack symptoms, study finds

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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