How do you treat sore muscles? Do they leave you sidelined for days interrupting your training? If so, one way to possibly prevent or reduce muscle soreness worth trying is watermelon.
While you may be thinking about leaving watermelon behind as the weather cools down, if you work out regularly, you'll want to keep it on your shopping list.
All About Watermelon
A member of the Cucurbitaceae family, watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is native to Africa, but is now grown throughout the world. Other members of this family include cucumbers and pumpkins. There are hundreds of different varieties of watermelon, some with yellow or white flesh, while the most common form has deep pink flesh beneath a thick, green rind. The flesh is most commonly consumed, but the rinds can be cooked or pickled as well.
The flesh can be bitter or sweet to the taste, depending on the variety and blacks seeds are typically present. Seedless watermelons were created by breeders several decades ago as a hybrid with only white, immature seeds.
Watermelon and Muscle Soreness
The reason watermelon is so effective at reducing muscle soreness and supporting muscle recovery is the presence of citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon. A 2013 study conducted in Spain and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed reduced muscle soreness after a 24-hour period in athletes who consumed natural watermelon juice. Watermelon is also more than 90 percent water, which makes it a great choice for hydration before, during and after workouts. You can also help balance your body's fluids with watermelon because it contains potassium, an important mineral and electrolyte.
Here are some great ways to get more watermelon:
Run it through a juicer and drink cold for vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Blend it with some tart cherries or tart cherry juice for an anti-inflammatory drink
Cut it up and toss with feta cheese and fresh, calming basil.
Make a delicious fruit salad with pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwis and strawberries for plenty of antioxidants and enzymes.
Infuse your bottle of water with watermelon and fresh mint leaves to rehydrate and support digestion.
Additional Benefits of Watermelon
That same citrulline that is beneficial for muscle soreness serves another purpose within the body. Citrulline is metabolized to form arginine, another amino acid. Arginine contributes to heart health and strengthens the immune system. It also helps synthesize nitric oxide. In a 2007 study conducted in Oklahoma and published in Nutrition, subjects consumed either 780 or 1,560 g of watermelon juice or a placebo for three weeks. On average, they consumed between 1 and 2 g of citrulline per day. As a result the amount of arginine found in their plasma increased 12 percent.
Watermelon is also a great source of nutrients like vitamin A, which is needed for skin and eye health and well as immunity. You also get vitamin B6, for healthy nerve function and vitamin C for greater immunity. These nutrients also act as antioxidants, fighting off the damage of free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and aging.
Watermelon also contains lycopene, an antioxidant responsible for its pink color. Lycopene is a carotenoid that has anti-inflammatory properties and protects the digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems.
Enjoy watermelon all year long for its healthful benefits and good taste. Check back at eVitamins for more health news and have a great week!