Monday, May 13, 2013

Cardiovascular Health from Food? Beat Aortic Dissection with Delicious Watermelon

I love to eat good food.  And when you can eat all you want (well almost) and get healthier at the same time, you have found reason to celebrate.

Healthy diet is one area of focus since Marfan Syndrom and aortic dissection came into my life, especially when my cardiovascular system and my dissected aorta is supported.

Food for Healthy Cardiovascular Systems - Watermelon is one of the best!
Florida State University (FSU) researchers say watermelon is one of the best foods for lowering blood pressure, calling the juicy melon a 'functional food'.  Functional foods are those, according to FSU as "... foods scientifically shown to have health-promoting or disease-preventing properties, above and beyond the other intrinsically healthy nutrients they also supply."

In studies conducted by FSU Assistant Professor Arturo Figueroa and Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi, results indicated that a diet including watermelon provided natural defenses against hypertension.  According to the FSU professors, watermelon is "the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide essential to the regulation of vascular tone and healthy blood pressure".

Importantly, the highest concentration of the L-citrulline is in the rind.  This means eating into the green.  I found the rind taste to be excellent, not bitter and I was excited about the possibility of finding a natural support system for my blood pressure issues.

Heart healthy watermelon's L-citrulline is found in the melon's rind.
 As someone who suffers from Marfan Syndrome and a dissected aorta, I need to keep my blood pressure low.

Current medications include the beta-blocker Metoprolol and Losartan among others.  Without meds my blood pressure runs high 140s over 90s.  With meds my BP is 120s over 60s.  With meds and watermelon my BP has steadily hovered around 105-110 over 55.

I love to eat watermelon because it is delicious, especially on a hot Florida afternoon.  But in addition to the L-citrulline, watermelon, according to FSU, in addition to the vascular benefits of citrulline, watermelon provides "abundant vitamin A, B6, C, fiber, potassium and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Watermelon may even help to reduce serum glucose levels, according to Arjmandi".

For me, watermelon helps cure to 'go grab something sugary sweet' urge, thereby supporting good kidney function.  The less sugar I consume (I am trying to eliminate all forms of refined sugars from my diet, along with most processed foods) the happier my cardiovascular system and organs, such as liver and kidneys are.

I've even grown watermelons on some of the green roofs we have built!  Of course, Judy is growing watermelon in her backyard Florida permaculture garden.

Of course, with any change in lifestyle you should check first with your doctor.  Yet I am very happy with the positive impact watermelon in my diet has made on my life.

Information concerning the FSU watermelon study can be accessed here.

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