Appalachian State

ASU researchers need women for watermelon study in Kannapolis

September 09, 2013

Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — The Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis needs adult women to take part in a study on watermelon and blood pressure.

The lab will conduct a study on how watermelon and exercise effect blood pressure. Researchers are looking for 60 adult women between the ages of 25 and 65 years of age who meet specific health criteria to take part in the study.

“This is the first study to combine the health benefits of eating watermelon with increased daily walking,” said Dr. Andrew Shanely, principal investigator. “Our study participants will help us determine if this combination is better for blood vessels than just additional walking.”

The ASU study will look at the effect of combining six weeks of watermelon supplementation and walking on blood vessel health.

Watermelon, the delicious and refreshing summer treat, contains numerous healthy compounds like vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene.

The compounds L-citrulline and L-arginine in watermelon are known vasodilators. Vasodilators improve the health of blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide, which decreases arterial stiffness by relaxing and widening blood vessels decreasing blood pressure.

Arterial stiffness is a measure of the health of blood vessels. It is a condition that increases with age and amount of body fat.

Regular physical activity slows the onset of arterial stiffness. Watermelon also has been reported to decrease arterial stiffness in adults with hypertension.

Researchers need women who have pre-hypertension or stage I hypertension but are not currently taking medication for high blood pressure, including diuretic medications. The qualifying volunteers need a body mass index (BMI) of approximately 23 or higher.

Study participants will be separated into a control group and a watermelon group. Each group will have designated times to visit the ASU laboratory in Kannapolis over the course of the study.

The visits will take no more than two hours and involve blood draws to measure blood markers of oxidative stress, antioxidant capacity, inflammation and cardiovascular disease that are indicators of blood vessel health.

During the study, the control group will increase physical activity by 4,000 steps per day. The watermelon group will increase physical activity by the same amount of steps and eat a watermelon puree as directed by the study investigators.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in three American adults — as many as 67 million people — have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Lack of exercise is thought to be a contributing factor to developing high blood.

To learn more or sign up, email ASU-NCRC@appstate.edu or call 704-250-5354.

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