Monday, March 5, 2012

Watermelons Lower Belly Fat Accumulation and Heart Disease Risk

Researchers from the University of Kentucky have demonstrated that consuming watermelon juice can have a significant impact on artery-clogging plaque deposition by modifying blood lipids and lowering dangerous belly fat accumulation. Heart disease takes the lives of millions of unsuspecting individuals each year, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) leading to a heart attack is the most common form of the disease.

Many different species of melons have been shown to benefit human health and watermelon is no exception. Regular consumption of the red fruit can help manage fat deposition and weight management goals while lowering the risks associated with coronary artery plaque accumulation and heart disease.

Watermelon Improves Lipid Profile and Fat Accumulation to Lower Heart Disease Risk
Researchers using mice with diet-induced high cholesterol were given supplemental watermelon juice while a control group was fed a typical diet with plain water. After a study period of eight weeks, the animals given watermelon juice had lower body weight than the control group, due to decreased fat mass. They experienced no decrease in lean mass, an important finding as muscle tissue remained viable and weight loss was due to loss of abdominal body fat.

Further, the study authors determined that plasma cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower in the supplemented group, with modestly reduced intermediate and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations as compared to the control group. An examination of plaque affected lesion areas found that the watermelon juice group experienced significant reductions in atherogenic plaque lesions and a statistically significant reduction in risk of progressive arterial hardening and heart attack.

Watermelon Consumption is Shown to Stabilize or Slow Arterial Plaque Growth
Lead investigator, Dr. Sibu Saha concluded “Melons have many health benefits… this pilot study has found three interesting health benefits in mouse model of atherosclerosis. Our ultimate goal is to identify bioactive compounds that would improve human health”. Any intervention that can stabilize or slow the growth of arterial plaque will result in a critical lowered risk of atherosclerosis (arterial hardening), the leading form of heart disease.

Like many other fruits and vegetables found in their natural form, watermelons contain powerful carotenoid antioxidant compounds that promote human health and fight disease. Watermelons derive their red color from lycopene, a nutrient well known for its ability to fight colon and prostate cancer. In addition, watermelon consumption is associated with protection against macular degeneration and has been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve insulin signaling. Prior studies have used three cups of watermelon juice or two and a half cups of fruit chunks to provide clinically significant levels of lycopene.