New research reveals just how much impact on muscle recovery watermelon can have
Watermelon juice’s reputation as a miracle recovery drink among athletes is getting scientific support: the first paper to study watermelon juice’s impact on sore muscle relief is reported in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Watermelon juice contains an amino acid called L-citrulline that could aid in recovery.
Encarna Aguayo and colleagues were interested in past research on watermelon juice’s antioxidant properties and its potential to increase muscle protein and enhance athletic performance. But scientists had yet to explore the effectiveness of watermelon juice drinks enriched in L-citrulline. Aguayo’s team set out to fill that gap in knowledge.
Aguayo told us: L-citrulline is almost absent from natural foods, watermelon being a notable exception. This amino acid could be supplied as watermelon fruit or juice or as products enriched in citrulline from watermelon extraction … L-citrulline is used in the nitric oxide (NO) system in humans and has potential antioxidant and vasodilatatory roles. NO can increase blood flow maintaining the blood pressure. NO increases the oxygen and glucose transport to the muscles. L-citrulline also accelerates lactic acid removal allowing better physical performance. You can train harder and get faster recovery during sport training.
They tested natural watermelon juice, watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline, and a control drink containing no L-citrulline on volunteers an hour before exercise. The volunteers were students of the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences who participate in sports regularly. Both the natural juice and the enriched juice relieved muscle soreness in the volunteers. L-citrulline in the natural juice (unpasteurized), however, seemed to be more bioavailable — in a form the body could better use, the study found.
Aguayo also says, “We have patented the extraction of L-citrulline from watermelon to research in the enrichment of natural products. We are looking for companies interested into design new natural products as energy bars, juices, etc. Future research should be focused on the minimal concentrations of citrulline required for reduction of muscle fatigue and other health benefits as stress, athletic performance, and cardiovascular disease.” We’re all for it.