Obese mice treated with watermelon supplements demonstrated lower blood sugar levels, reduced insulin concentration levels, and decreased inflammation.
More than half of Americans are overweight, leading to negative health effects such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Although lifestyle changes are recommended, like exercise and eating healthy meals, many Americans find it difficult to avoid a high-fat diet.
In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers evaluated a potential alternative to lifestyle changes that would mitigate the metabolic risks associated with obesity: watermelon supplements.
Watermelon by-products—such as skin, rind, and flesh—are known for treating diabetes and decreasing blood pressure. The researchers were interested to see if a powdered form of these watermelon by-products could be used to improve the metabolism of obese individuals.
To evaluate the use of watermelon supplements, the researchers fed mice five separate diets: a low-fat diet, a high-fat control diet, a high-fat diet with watermelon skin supplements, a high-fat diet with watermelon rind supplements, and a high-fat diet with watermelon flesh supplements. The mice were fed these diets over the span of ten weeks, with their weights and glucose levels noted at the beginning and end of the trial.
At the end of the trial, the researchers found that the high-fat control group of mice had a similar body weight to the high-fat watermelon supplement groups; this suggests that watermelon supplements have little significant effect on body weight.
However, blood glucose levels were significantly lower in the watermelon supplement groups than in the high-fat control group, with blood glucose levels almost the same as in the low-fat group. The researchers found a similar phenomenon with insulin: insulin levels were lower in watermelon supplement groups than in the high-fat groups. This is most likely related to the lower blood glucose levels, as insulin is a hormone that helps the body store glucose. When there is a problem with insulin delivery in the body, the individual is unable to regulate the glucose in their blood, resulting in diabetes.
The researchers also noted that the mice treated with watermelon supplements had reduced inflammation compared with the high-fat control group. The high-fat control group had an increase in compounds that increase inflammation, suggesting that chronic inflammation can be the result of a high-fat diet. Interestingly, the watermelon flesh group had the lowest number of inflammation compounds, the numbers about the same as those in the low-fat diet group. The researchers remarked that this was the first time watermelon consumption demonstrated a decrease in inflammation.
Although these results have only been reported in mouse models, if the same can be shown in human clinical trials, then watermelon supplements might prove to be a way to combat the negative health effects associated with obesity.
Written by Shayna Goldenberg
- Becraft, A., Sturm, M., Mendez, R., Park, S., Lee, S. and Shay, N. (2019). Intake of Watermelon or Its Byproducts Alters Glucose Metabolism, the Microbiome, and Hepatic Proinflammatory Metabolites in High-Fat–Fed Male C57BL/6 J Mice. The Journal of Nutrition.
- EurekAlert!. (2019). Watermelon supplements bring health benefits to obese mice. [online] Available at: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/osu-wsb121919.php [Accessed 27 Dec. 2019].
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