New-found Super Power for Watermelon

We all know watermelon is a delicious summer fruit. But some new research has indicate that it might also be a recovery aid – results of a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that a compound found in watermelon juice may help athletes recovery after exercise.

The compound is called I-Citrulline and is an amino acid that is metabolized in the body into arginine. Arginine is one of the essential amino acids and plays a role in cardiovascular and immune functions, including wound and injury healing (especially bone injuries). Oral arginine supplements have several benefits including wound and tissue healing and reducing blood pressure in people with clinically high blood pressure. Arginine’s role in immune function and tissue healing is what makes it interesting to athletes. A 2007 study showed that eating watermelon increases blood levels of arginine, which means the I-citrulline in watermelon was converted to the arginine in the body.

The Study

Image c/o snowpea&bokchoi

This particular study put 7 athletes through a max effort cycling test and provided them with either a placebo, about 16 ounces of natural watermelon juice, and watermelon juice infused with additional I-citrulline. Both watermelon juices were helpful in reducing recovery heart rate and muscle soreness 24 hours later.


My Advice For You

OK, so this is just one study. In the scheme of things that isn’t a reason to buy and juice 100 lbs of watermelon. But, watermelon is a tasty summer fruit. And since it’s available and cheap, why not make some watermelon juice, or just eat some watermelon. You need carbohydrates before and after you workout anyway, why not from watermelon! 1 cup of watermelon chunks has 50 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates.


To make watermelon juice, simply cut up watermelon into chunks and puree them in a blender. You can either strain the juice or drink it with pulp. You can also add it to fruit smoothies or salads.

If you want to get more creative, check out these recipes from Food Network.


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