Move over Gatorade and Powerade. New scientific research is extolling the virtues of a novel, natural sports drink: Watermelon juice.
A study in this month’s American Chemical Society Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found juice from the traditional summer fruit effectively relieves exercise-related muscle soreness. The research, which lends scientific credence to athletes who have long claimed the juice boosts performance and aids recovery, attributes watermelon's effects to the amino acid L-citrulline.
Food scientist Encarna Aguayo and colleagues from the Technical University of Cartagena in Colombia noted past studies have suggested watermelon juice's antioxidant properties offer the potential to increase muscle protein and enhance athletic performance.
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The new findings not only confirm those claims, but also indicate watermelon juice drinks — enriched in L-citrulline — are effective in alleviating aches and pains that result from exercise.
To reach their conclusions, Aguayo's team tested natural watermelon juice, watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline, and a sports drink containing no L-citrulline on volunteers an hour before exercise.
Both the natural juice and the enriched juice relieved muscle soreness in the volunteers, while the sports drink without watermelon or the amino acid had no effect. Aquayo noted L-citrulline in the natural juice (unpasteurized) seemed to be more "bioavailable" — meaning it is in a form the body can better use.
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