A study has shown that blood pressure in overweight individuals can be reduced by consuming watermelon both at rest and under stress. Associate professor Arturo Figueroa explained, “The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract.”
The study is based on the notion that more people die of heart-related events when it’s colder. The stress from colder temperatures raises the blood pressure, so the heart has to pump harder. This risk is elevated in obese people.
The study took place over a 12-week period and involved 13 middle-aged, obese persons who had high blood pressure. One hand of the participants was dipped into 39 degree (four degree Celsius) water and their blood pressure was measured. The group was then further divided into two groups.
For the first six weeks, one group was given watermelon extracts and the other group was given a placebo. During the test, patients were not permitted to take blood pressure medication and did not make any significant changes to their lifestyle.
The researchers found that consuming watermelon extract had positive benefits for blood pressure readings when exposed to the cold water. “That means, less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure,” explained Figueroa.
Past studies on watermelon intake uncovered its positive effects on arterial function in post-menopausal women.
Natural remedies to lower blood pressure
Cut down on salt
There is a lot of debate over salt and blood pressure. In some people, it increases blood pressure, in others it decreases blood pressure. In some, there is no change. Still, your body needs the salt. But too much salt causes water retention in the body. So it’s best to limit it.
If you are over 40, or have a family history of high blood pressure, limit your salt intake to about 1,500 mg a day. The best way to do it is to stay away from processed food and fast food. They are loaded with salt – you can easily exceed your daily required amount in a single fast food meal.
You can even try and avoid cooking with salt. If you don’t feel like you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
Maintain sodium-potassium balance
Because we take in so much salt (sodium), most people have a sodium to potassium ratio of 2:1. To maintain healthy blood pressure, we should ideally have a 1:5 ratio. That means, we must eat five times more potassium than sodium.
Excellent dietary sources of potassium are apricots, avocado, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwis, lima beans, oranges, potatoes, prunes, and squash. You could also switch your table salt from a sodium-based salt to a potassium-based salt.
Lower sugar intake
Thousands of studies have identified sugar as the main culprit for high blood pressure. Sugar (including the sugar that’s processed from starchy food) plays a key role in atherosclerosis, a condition where a gooey sticky material collects along the walls of the arteries, makes the arteries narrow, and increases the pressure.
Sugar also causes the insulin levels in the blood to shoot up. Elevated insulin is associated with increased triglycerides, increased bad cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Stay off caffeine
In some people, drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause a spike in their blood pressure. Before you go off coffee, check to see if your blood pressure is sensitive to caffeine with this simple test – check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee.
If your blood pressure increases by five to 10 points, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of caffeine, and it might be a good idea to gradually cut it from your daily diet.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
This is a no-brainer. Added pounds make your heart work harder. In nearly all cases, high blood pressure is reduced or eliminated with unwanted weight.
Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure, too. In general, men with more than a 40-inch waistline, and women with more than a 35-inch waistline have a higher risk of high blood pressure.
While shedding the pounds, please do not go overboard. First, find out what your ideal weight should be, based on your sex, age, and height. Then go about reducing your weight with the help of diet and exercise.
When you exercise regularly, you do two things. One, you burn calories and lose weight. Two, you make your blood flow faster, so it prevents deposits in the arteries.
Now you don’t have to join a health club or start grunting in the weight room. Even moderate walking is great. Or even taking the stairs instead of the escalator. If you have any health problems, ask your doctor to suggest an exercise routine to suit your needs. An average of about 30 minutes a day is good. Exercise is a habit. Once you get in the swing, you’ll get addicted to feeling great.
Cut down on alcohol and smoking
In small amounts, alcohol can potentially lower your blood pressure by two to four mm Hg. But if you take more than one drink a day (350 ml of beer, 150 ml of wine or 45 ml of 80-proof liquor), alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications. If you are a heavy drinker, taper off gradually, as a sudden abstinence can cause blood pressure problems.
Tobacco hardens your arteries and the walls of your blood vessels and reduces the space in your arteries, so the pressure increases. So kick the habit.
No blood pressure story is complete without the adrenaline story. Adrenaline rushes into your blood when your body is subjected to Fear, Flight, Fight, or Fright. Once it is released, this hormone constricts arteries and temporarily increases blood pressure. That’s why prolonged periods of stress are dangerous. Don’t let things affect you too much. If you can’t eliminate all of your stressors, try different things like yoga or meditation.
Remember, nothing is as important as your good health. So when you’re stressed, take a deep breath, let your mind wander to positive things, and calm down. You can start now by not worrying about your blood pressure.
Benefits of watermelon
Trying to shed a few extra pounds? Whether it’s for your health or the look, watermelon can help with that. Watermelon benefits for weight loss start with their low-energy density. This refers to a food’s calories per serving. In the case of watermelon, you can enjoy quite a bit and receive very few calories. The benefit? Because watermelon is mainly water, it fills you up without the added calories, leading to weight loss.
Additionally, watermelon can improve digestion and constipation, which are two factors that can contribute to your weight. Watermelon’s fiber and water content aid in constipation and maintain regularity. If you’re able to go, you’re not harboring toxins and sludge which can lead to weight gain.
Watermelon also promotes hydration and this, too, is vital for successful weight loss. When we are dehydrated, we tend to retain fluid which can lead to bloating. Enjoying watermelon can reduce bloating and, in turn, lead to weight loss.
Aside from weight loss, watermelon can assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure because of its lycopene content, as reported in the American Journal of Hypertension. Furthermore, its amino acid content can help relieve and reduce muscle soreness, so if you’re partaking in exercise, ensure watermelon is part of your post-workout meal.
Also read: 10 health benefits of drinking watermelon juice