Wondrous Watermelon

On a hot summer day, a cool, juicy slice of watermelon offers enticing refreshment. The treat offers surprising health benefits, too—it may help keep weight off and arteries clear, according to a recent study involving mice with high cholesterol by University of Kentucky researchers.

One group sipped watermelon juice; the control group, water. After eight weeks, the mice that imbibed the juice had a lower body weight due to a decrease in fat mass; lean muscle mass was unaffected. These same mice also experienced reduced atherosclerotic lesions—associated with hardening of the arteries—and lower concentrations of cholesterol in their blood.

“This pilot study has found … interesting health benefits in the mouse model of atherosclerosis,” says lead investigator Dr. Sibu Saha, a cardiothoracic surgeon. “Our ultimate goal is to identify bioactive compounds that would improve human health.”

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