Watermelon supplements may offer health benefits, study finds
Eating watermelon in the form of powdered supplements helped adult obese mice avoid some detrimental health effects of an unhealthy diet, according to a new study by researchers from Oregon State University in Corvallis, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition.
In the study, 10-week-old male laboratory mice were fed either a low-fat or high-fat diet over a 10-week period. Groups of high-fat-fed mice were given watermelon supplements in the form of a powder made from a freeze-dried process. The amount of watermelon flesh supplement was equivalent to 1½ human servings a day, and the skin and rind supplement were equivalent to the amount in a typical dietary fiber supplement.
At the beginning and end of the trial, the researchers recorded the body weight and glucose tolerance of each mouse. Mice that were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with watermelon products had significantly better blood glucose levels than the mice on the high-fat-only diet.
An elevated blood-glucose level may be an indicator of Type 2 diabetes, a disease in which the body doesn't make enough or properly use insulin, a hormone that turns food into energy. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers also saw a significant increase in the family of beneficial bacteria in the mice that were given powder supplements.
The study was funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, an industry group that is seeking new ways to use byproducts such as skin and rind that end up as food waste.
Researchers say the next step would be a human clinical trial.