I’ll admit the thought of eating watermelon rinds isn’t exactly appetizing. Still, recent research may warrant eating below the sweet pink layer and into the region of the watermelon typically resigned to the garbage can.
Watermelon rinds contain a compound called citrulline that recent research shows to hold certain health benefits that appeal to most everyone.
Citrulline Fights Free Radicals in the Body
In its March 2011 edition, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture detailed evidence suggesting that the phyto-nutrient, citrulline, may hold promise as a powerful, free radical fighting source of antioxidants.
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes.
Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. This can lead to cell mutations, loss in critical cell function and death of the cells.
It is believed that antioxidants like citrulline serve to eliminate free radicals from the body, ensuring that they don’t set off a dangerous chain reaction that may lead to cancer, immune system deficiencies and premature aging.
Citrulline Can Enhance Libido and Make Sex More Pleasurable
As it’s broken down during digestion, citrulline is decomposed into arginine. One of arginine’s biological benefits is the boost it provides to the body’s nitric oxide levels.
Nitric oxide promotes the relaxation and expansion of blood vessels. This allows the vessels to increase the rate at which they fill with blood and can also enhance the volume of blood they can receive.
In fact, Nitric oxide is taken as an isolated supplement by bodybuilders who desire to increase blood flow while weight training. This is believed to speed recovery between sets, while also creating a more impressive muscle pump, which describes the swelling of the muscles as they fill with blood from being highly stimulated.
This property can also be sexually beneficial. Actually, Viagra works in much the same way, relaxing the blood vessels in the penis to encourage greater blood flow in order to combat erectile dysfunction and enhance sexual pleasure.
Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station, explains that citrulline ingested by eating a watermelon rind does not target the reproductive system to the extent that Viagra does.
Still, he does say that the effect it induces is similar: “Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it.”
Citrulline Supports a Healthy Heart
The same process that promotes sexual health by converting citrulline to arginine may also be a proactive one in terms of protecting heart health, as well.
The increase in blood flow that follows the ingestion of citrulline can ease heart stress, improve high blood pressure and even help mitigate other cardiovascular conditions.
If these benefits still aren’t enough to get you to bite into the rind of your next slice of watermelon, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to chew the rind to receive these benefits.
Instead, just take the rind home with you and juice it with any combination of other fruits and vegetables. This is a quick and easy way to receive all the phyto-nutrients contained in your watermelon rind – and their associated benefits – without having to eat it straight up.
- Photo Credits: