According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, reducing recent research sodium intake has a limited effect in lowering high blood pressure and a minimal effect on people with normal blood pressure. However, in the United States is finding out that a moderate sodium intake combined with a higher intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are found in fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, offers more significant benefits for reducing high blood pressure than just restricting sodium intake. These four minerals, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium work together to regulate blood pressure.

And now, researchers from USDA Agricultural Research Service, Texas A&M University, University of Nevada, and Oklahoma State University, have reported that the levels of arginine in the blood increased by 22 per cent after three weeks of drinking watermelon juice with every meal. Arginine is a substance needed to produce nitric oxide, which has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and protect against myocardial infarction and strokes.

The study included 23 volunteers who received 1560 grams of watermelon juice per day. Julie Collins, the lead author of the study, reports that the volunteers showed that fasting blood levels of arginine had increased by 22 per cent in three weeks. “Because the watermelon juice intervention was not continued longer than three weeks, it is not known if arginine levels will have remained stable at three weeks or if there would have been further increases with prolonged administration,” stated the researchers.

Additional benefits of watermelons

The name of this fruit, watermelon, gives us a clear idea of what it is made of. Watermelon is, of all fruits, the one that contains the largest percentage of water, 93%. In fact, two large slices of watermelon are equivalent to one glass of water. Its refreshing and moisturizing qualities, along with its low contribution of energy –barely 20 calories in 100 grams- make watermelon, without a doubt, the queen of fruits during summer time.

Choosing a watermelon at the market

Watermelons that are grown in the open mature between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, reaching their peak during summer time. To know if a watermelon is just ripe, “knock” on the peel; if it sounds hollow it means the fruit is full of water, ripe, and ready for the whole family to enjoy its sweet flavor. Buy pieces that their peal is not damaged with bruises or dents.

If you buy a whole watermelon you can keep it outside the refrigerator for about two weeks since its thick peal protects the inside fruit. But once you start it, keep it in the refrigerator, well rapped so that it does not lose its water content.

Watermelons are excellent diuretics: they stimulate kidney activity and increase the production of urine which favors the elimination of toxins. It is low in fiber and its fat content is almost non existent.

Noteworthy is its content of the carotenoids lutein and lycopene. Lycopene, the responsible pigment for the red color in certain fruits, has antioxidant properties that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

About the Author

Emilia Klapp has a bachelor in Nutrition Science. She is certified as a Registered Dietitian by the American Dietetic Association and the author of the book Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet. The book is a must in the prevention of Heart Disease and Diabetes. For more information about the author and the book and to get a FREE list of the 10 Top Mediterranean Curative Foods, go to: http://www.MediterraneanHeart.com

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