The Watermelon Diet May Be Good for the Heart

Mice that drank watermelon juice lost weight and reduced cholesterol levels.

New research shows that citrulline, a compound found in watermelon, promotes weight loss and heart health. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here’s hoping you got your watermelon fix this summer, because new research says the so-called “watermelon diet” can lower weight and cholesterol levels and keep our hearts healthy.

The study was conducted on mice, but the results are still promising for the fruit’s health benefits for humans, researchers say. It’s well-known that watermelon contains nutrients that promote anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, but researchers have increasingly found interest in the compound citrulline for its potential ability to lower blood pressure. For this study they wanted to determine whether citrulline plays a role in cardiovascular health.

The study involved two groups of mice who were on diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Half the mice drank water that contained 2 percent watermelon juice. The second half received a control drink.

Researchers did not find any signs of lower blood pressure from citrulline, but other results showed great promise. Turns out that the mice who had the watermelon juice gained 30 percent less weight than the control group. They also had 50 percent less bad cholesterol and a 50 percent reduction of clogged arteries.

Since the study was conducted on mice, it’s unknown how much watermelon juice needs to be consumed by humans to experience its heart health benefits.

Watermelon has long been touted for its high source of water, lycophene, and vitamins C and A (though a large portion of its calories come from sugar). The researchers’ next step is to determine whether certain types of watermelon have more health benefits than others.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry