If your muscles feel sore after working out, reach for a tall glass of watermelon juice. That’s the suggestion from a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,’ which found that the fruit is one of the only foods naturally rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid thought to increase blood flow to tissues and maintain healthy blood pressure. The researchers found that subjects who drank a little less than two cups of watermelon juice (1.17 grams of natural L-citrulline) an hour before working out had less muscle soreness 24 hours later.
Follow-up studies are needed before we can be sure of watermelon’s ability to aid workout recoveries (this study simply measured soreness), but turning to watermelon juice is a good idea for general health anyway. The melon is an excellent source of lycopene, which is thought to decrease risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as maintain healthy vision. It also contains the amino acids citrulline and argenine, which help keep blood flowing freely, lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, and decrease inflammation. “Plus it’s delicious, inexpensive, cholesterol free, fat free, and virtually devoid of sodium,” says registered dietician Elizabeth Somer.