Natural Vegetarian Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in your health. It is the only vitamin that can be made by the human body from sunshine. Good food sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, yogurt, eggs, fatty fish, soy products and fortified cereals. The recommended adequate intake (AI) level for the active form of vitamin D (vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol) is 5 micrograms (mcg), or 200 International Units (IU) for adults aged 31 to 50 years. After age of 50, the AI increases to 10 mcg, or 400 IU. For vegetarians, particularly vegans (consume no animal products), getting enough vitamin D from food sources can be a challenge.



When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, a cholesterol-like compound is converted to a vitamin D precursor and then to vitamin D3, (or cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is activated by enzymes from the liver and then the kidney. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure (for most people, without sunscreen) approximately three times a week, makes enough vitamin D. It can be stored for several months in the body. It cannot be emphasized enough, vitamin D made by the body through sun exposure and activated by enzymes in the body is the best way to ensure optimal vitamin D status.


Most tofu is fortified with additional nutrients. One serving (79 g) of Nasoya light firm tofu offers 581 IU of vitamin D, while 1 cup of Silk light plain soy milk provides 338 IU. Soy milk (all flavors), nonfat, with added calcium, and vitamins A and D provides 297 to 313 IU depending upon the brand. Other varieties of soy milk, even of the same brand, may provide less vitamin D, such as 1 cup of Silk Plus Omega-3 DHA soymilk (218 IU) or Vitasoy Light vanilla soy milk (220 IU). Soy yogurt is another option. Silk plain soy yogurt provides 161 IU of vitamin D.


Fortified cereals are another option. Just one 1/2-cup serving of Kellogg’s All-Bran with extra fiber contains 219 IU of vitamin D while 1/2-cup serving of Kellogg’s All-Bran (original) provides 131 IU. Kellogg’s Fruit Harvest, Strawberry/Blueberry (3/4-cup serving) offers 111 IU of vitamin D and General Mills Berry Burst Cheerios (3/4-cup serving) provides 109 IU vitamin D. Some hot cereals are vitamin-D rich also. One packet of Quaker instant oatmeal, Nutrition for Women, any flavor, provides 185 to 188 IU of vitamin D. Since many cereals are fortified with vitamin D, check out the label of your favorite variety. Choose one that provides at least 100 IU of vitamin D per serving.


Fruits and vegetables are not considered, in general, to be good sources of vitamin D with a couple of exceptions. One cup of orange juice (fortified with calcium and vitamin D) offers 259 IU of vitamin D. The only vegetable considered to be naturally vitamin D-rich is the mushroom (canned, raw or cooked). One cup of canned mushrooms (drained, solids only) provides 168 IU of vitamin D while 1 cup of sliced white mushrooms offers 164 IU vitamin D.

Vitamins for Blood Circulation

Circulatory problems arise when oxygenated blood cannot flow freely throughout the body, according to “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” There are a number of underlying causes for poor circulation, most of which can be helped by getting daily exercise, adequate hydration and proper nutrition. However, vitamin supplementation may be helpful periodically to correct nutrient deficiencies and to assist in healing the entire cardiovascular system. These vitamins are best utilized in the body from fresh food sources.

Vitmain B Complex

The B vitamins work most effectively as a group and have a wide range of benefits for circulation. In particular, vitamin B3 (niacin) helps to lower cholesterol and thin the blood. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) enhances circulation and brain function. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) promotes red blood cell formation and aids in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) acts as an energy booster and prevents anemia. Some of the best food sources of the B vitamins include brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, chicken, herring, liver, sea food, beans, whole grains, sea vegetables and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals that cause arterial damage and contribute to cholesterol buildup. Vitamin C is also effective for toning blood vessels, according to One study in the “Journal of Clinical Investigation” found that diabetics can boost circulation by taking between 250 mg and 500 mg of vitamin C a day. Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include citrus berries, acerola cherries, citrus fruits, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin E

According to, vitamin E is effective for improving blood vessel tone. As an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of fats and the formation of free radicals. Good food sources include nuts, seeds, cold-pressed olive oil, beans, brown rice, dark leafy green vegetables and whole grains.

Vitmain D

Vitamin D is most essential for the utilization of calcium, which is necessary for normal blood viscocity. The best way to get adequate vitamin D is by exposing one’s face, arms and legs to the sun at least three times a week for about 15 minutes. Some rich food sources of vitamin D include salmon, halibut, eggs, cod liver oil, sardines, oatmeal and tuna.

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What Herbs Are Good for Circulation in the Veins?

Circulation problems in your veins may be the result of an illness or a disorder, such as blood clots or poor blood flow. To promote healthy circulation, a variety of herbs are effective in helping to improve circulation in the veins. Note that alternative treatments should never replace conventional treatments. Speak with your doctor before the intake of any herbal supplement.



Garlic has been used as medication and food for thousands of years, all the way to the Egyptian time period. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that garlic is effective in helping to prevent circulatory conditions such as atherosclerosis. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, garlic is used to help treat circulatory disorders and enhance blood circulation throughout your arteries and veins. A study conducted by Gordon M. Lowe and Khalid Rahman at the School of Biomolecular Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, England, found that garlic helps to reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Side effects of garlic may include upset stomach, body odor and bloating. Also, garlic contains blood-thinning properties, so it’s important to not consume garlic if you are going to undergo a major surgery or are expecting to deliver.


Ginkgo, or ginkgo biloba, is one of the best-selling herbal supplements in the United States. According to UMMC, ginkgo is important for improving blood flow in the veins and arteries, while also treating circulatory disorders such as intermittent claudication. Ginkgo has also been shown to help dilate blood vessels. Ginkgo is considered a safe herb, however, in rare cases, some side effects such as dizziness or gastrointestinal upset have occurred.


Cayenne pepper, or Capsicum annuum or red pepper, is used in countries such as Italy and China to help treat circulatory problems. The Consumer Health website notes that cayenne pepper is also referred to as the “central circulatory stimulant,” as using the spice on a regular basis is efficient in cleansing your whole body, while also helping to improve health conditions such as arthritis, due to a substance known as capsaicin, which has pain-relieving properties. According to UMMC, no harmful side effects of cayenne pepper are known. However, women who are pregnant should avoid consuming cayenne pepper, as it does pass into breast milk.


Hawthorn, or Crataegus species, has been used since the early 1800s to help treat circulatory disorders and improve blood flow, according to UMMC. Hawthorn is considered safe, but rare side effects may possibly occur, which include palpitations or headaches. Also, if are thinking of treating heart disease with hawthorn, speak with your doctor beforehand.

What Are the Benefits of Turmeric & Gram Flour?

urmeric and gram flour are natural ingredients found in many types of cuisine throughout the world. Turmeric is a ground spice with a deep yellow color that tints nearly anything it touches. Gram flour, also known as besan or garbanzo flour, is ground from chickpeas and common in gluten-free baking. The benefits of turmeric and gram flour span from adding color to baked goods to enhancing your skin’s glow.

Nutritional Profile

After eating one serving of turmeric and gram flour in a meal, your body will benefit from a boost of nutrients. One 1-tablespoon serving of turmeric powder contains 12 milligrams of calcium, 3 milligrams of iron, 13 milligrams of magnesium, 18 milligrams of phosphorus and 172 milligrams of potassium. One 1-cup serving of gram flour contains 41 milligrams of calcium, 4 milligrams of iron, 153 milligrams of magnesium, 293 milligrams of phosphorus and 778 milligrams of potassium. While the nutritional benefits from turmeric and gram flour are not enough to sustain normal bodily function, they notably contribute to your daily recommended intake of nutrients.

Health Benefits

Gram flour is a high-protein, gluten-free baking ingredient that can replace wheat and all-purpose flour in many recipes. This provides healthy baking options for individuals with celiac disease who cannot safely consume gluten. Turmeric is a common holistic treatment for cuts, bruises, arthritis pain, diarrhea and stomach aches. In addition, it contains curcumin, which might have anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. However, definitive scientific research is currently in progress for these benefits, and conclusive results are not yet available.

Topical Applications

A mixture of one part almond oil, two parts turmeric and six parts gram flour creates a revitalizing skin mask. The almond oil helps moisturize your skin, gram flour acts as a light exfoliating agent and turmeric leaves your skin radiant. Recipes for masks utilizing the two ingredients are abundant in natural skin care. For general use, blend the turmeric and gram flour evenly and then add the almond oil. Mix the mask until a smooth paste forms. Apply the mask to your skin with your fingers, massaging it in with small circular motions. Allow the mask to sit for five to eight minutes before rinsing your skin with lukewarm water.


The protein content of gram flour can turn foods such as pancakes, cookies and muffins into a healthy snack. In addition, gram flour mixed with water is a common egg replacement for those who live a vegan lifestyle. Turmeric introduces a rich, golden color to any dish, including curries, soups, stews, yogurt, sauces, ice cream, popcorn and many more. Just a pinch changes the color of the food dramatically.

Warning and Considerations

Never attempt to self-treat an illness or disease without first consulting your health-care professional. He can advise you on what works best for your personal health and whether turmeric and gram flour are a good fit in your diet. Should you wish to incorporate turmeric and gram flour in your diet, purchase it from natural sources for the best flavor and highest nutritional content. Store turmeric and gram flour in a cool, dark place sealed in separate airtight containers.

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Horsetail vs. BioSil

Herbalists often recommend horsetail, a fern-like plant rich in the essential mineral silicon, to promote healthy hair, skin and nails. However, there are safety issues concerning the use of horsetail. BioSil, manufactured by Bio Minerals n.v., is a dietary supplement, which contains a biologically accessible form of silicon called ch-OSA, or choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid. Manufacturers claim BioSil can reduce wrinkles, thicken hair, strengthen nails and promote healthy joints. Consult your doctor before taking horsetail extract or BioSil.

Horsetail, Silicon and Silica

Horsetail, botanically known as Equisetum arvense, has been traditionally employed as a diuretic and astringent. credits it with possible antioxidant properties, and notes its use as an herbal treatment for urinary tract problems. Silicon, also called silica and silicon dioxide, occurs naturally in the body in bones, tendons and skin; it appears in the bloodstream in the form of orthosilicic acid. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that because horsetail contains silicon, a mineral required for bone health, it has been recommended in the treatment of osteoporosis, a disease that causes the thinning of bones; however, more studies are needed to determine its effectiveness. The Institute of Medicine reports that there is no recommended dietary intake for silicon; most people consume between 20 and 40 milligrams a day. According to a study published in 2002 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” beer, bananas and string beans are the main dietary sources of silicon for adults.

Usage and Considerations

Experts disagree on the safety of horsetail, which is available in capsules standardized to contain 10 to 15 percent silica. According to the UMMC, horsetail is safe when used properly, but should not be taken over prolonged periods of time., however, reports that horsetail is no longer considered safe due to its content of thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B-1 in the body. Manufacturers are required to provide documentation of thiaminase removal. If you take horsetail, the UMMC recommends taking B-complex vitamins as a precaution. You should purchase horsetail only from a reputable supplier, as Equisetum palustre, a related variety, contains toxic alkaloids. You shouldn’t use horsetail if you drink alcohol regularly or have heart or kidney problems, diabetes or gout. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children, should not take horsetail. Consult your doctor before using this supplement.


According to, the ch-OSA in BioSil activates pathways that generate collagen, thus helping to prevent the formation of wrinkles. The manufacturers also claim that BioSil stimulates production of elastin, which gives skin its pliancy, as well as keratin, a key constituent of hair and nails. Choline, an essential nutrient that helps maintain cell membrane integrity, is also found in BioSil. In a placebo-controlled clinical study published in 2005 in “Archives for Dermatological Research,” 50 women with photoaged skin who were given 10 milligrams of ch-OSA a day for 20 weeks experienced significant improvements in skin texture and elasticity over women who did not received the supplement. In a study published in 2007 in the “Archives for Dermatological Research,” researchers found that 48 women with fine hair who were given 10 milligrams of ch-OSA a day for nine months had hair that was less susceptible to breakage than that of the control group.

Expert Recommendations

According to NYU Langone Medical Center, a study published in 2005 in the “Archives for Dermatological Research,” indicating ch-OSA’s benefits for skin, hair and nails, did not meet the highest standards of design and reporting. In addition, both the ch-OSA study published in 2005 and the one published in 2007 were supported by a grant from Bio Minerals, n.v., the manufacturer of BioSil. Independent research on ch-OSA’s cosmetic benefits is lacking. In addition, BioSil — as well as horsetail — can be costly. Most nutritionists advise consuming silicon naturally by eating a diet rich in fibrous foods such as leafy greens, beans, bananas, root vegetables, celery and cucumbers.

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Is There a Difference Between Valerian Root Tea and Capsules?

Valerian root is an herb used as an alternative treatment for insomnia and anxiety. Some people use it for headaches, muscle and joint pain, menopausal symptoms and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Herbs are plants whose leaves, stems, roots or flowers are used for flavorings, medicines and teas. They are available in bulk, tea bags, tablets and capsules. When used medicinally, they should be labeled with the standardized potency per serving or capsule. Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking herbs as an alternative medicine. Some people are allergic to grasses and other herbaceous plants.

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Available Forms

Valerian root is available in various forms, including capsules, teas, tinctures, extracts and tablets. The tinctures and extracts are either alcohol-based or glycerite-based preparations. The root can be dried and powdered to form tablets and capsules. Valerian root has a strong, sharp odor that is best masked in capsules or combined with other herbs to improve the flavor. Passion flower, lemon balm, hops and kava may be added. There is no difference between valerian tea and capsules, as long as the ingredients and potency are the same per serving or dose. Follow the directions for each form, and consult with your healthcare provider for advice.


The active ingredient in valerian that may be responsible for its sedative actions is valerenic acid. Capsules are often standardized to contain 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent valerenic or valeric acid. Standardized doses are preferred because you know exactly how much you are getting. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, prepare valerian tea with one cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoonful of dried root. Steep tea for five to 10 minutes. If using capsules, take 200 milligrams, three to four times a day. For insomnia, take the dose one to two hours before bedtime. Valerian seems most effective if taken for two or more weeks, according to Check with your doctor for precise directions.


Valerian has been studied to substantiate the claims that it helps reduce insomnia. According to “The Healing Power of Herbs,” research involving 128 subjects found that valerian improved sleep quality and shortened the amount of time needed to fall asleep. Researchers also noted that the subjects did not experience a hangover in the morning after using valerian, and that it did not cause daytime sedation in the subjects. In addition, the study found that 160 milligrams of valerian root was as effective in promoting sleep as the prescription sleeping aid benzodiazepine. A study reported in “Sleep” in 2005 found that a combination of valerian and hops was effective in improving both the sleep and the quality of life of the subjects. On the other hand, MedlinePlus and the University of Maryland Medical Center report that some studies have shown that valerian does not help insomniacs.


Take herbs with care and use only under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Some herbs can trigger side effects or interact with drugs that you may be taking. Do not take valerian if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Valerian is generally regarded as safe and is approved for food use by the Food and Drug Administration. According to, valerian can cause mild side effects, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal problems and even sleeplessness. Report any side effects to your healthcare provider.

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Potassium Chloride vs. Potassium Citrate

Potassium citrate and potassium chloride are forms of the mineral potassium prepared in two different ways. Potassium is an essential mineral found in various foods. Your body uses potassium to help your heart, muscles, kidneys, nerves and digestive system work properly. As medications, potassium citrate and potassium chloride treat different conditions.


Potassium is an electrolyte, which means that it disconnects into ions and can conduct electricity. The balance of potassium and sodium is critical for normal cell functioning. Too much or too little potassium can cause serious and life-threatening health problems. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. Eating a diet with enough potassium can help prevent diseases and conditions, such as stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and kidney stones, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.


People with hyperkalemia, or too much potassium, should not take either potassium citrate or potassium chloride. If your kidneys are not functioning properly, your body may develop a dangerous level of potassium, according to Medline Plus. Hyperkalemia can cause nausea, slower pulse and cardiac arrest if the heartbeat gets too slow or stops. With medications or additives that contain potassium, you may need to adjust your diet. Some salt substitutes can be high in potassium.


Potassium citrate is an alkalizing agent. It is used when your urine is too acidic. Your doctor may prescribe potassium citrate if you have a mild urinary tract infection, such as cystitis. Potassium chloride is a form of potassium for people who have low levels of potassium, also known as hypokalemia. Certain diseases or medications can cause potassium levels to drop to unsafe levels. A prolonged bout of vomiting or diarrhea can also cause hypokalemia.


Consult your physician if you are taking potassium citrate or potassium chloride. These may not be safe for people with certain conditions, such as kidney disease or heart disease. Make sure your doctor knows about any other medications you are taking. Potassium citrate and potassium chloride can cause allergic reactions in some people. Potassium citrate is unlikely to cause any side effects other than an increase in urine. Potassium chloride can cause confusion, anxiety, uneven heartbeat, thirst, muscle weakness, nausea or numbness.

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Lemon-Lime Soda & Upset Stomachs

A variety of remedies can treat stomach maladies. Depending on the condition, you may already have one treatment in your pantry: lemon-lime soda. Lemon-lime soda has a long history of use in easing upset stomachs. For temporary relief of an upset stomach caused by indigestion, excessive alcohol consumption or the stomach flu, this simple carbonated beverage can help ease the discomfort. However, consult a physician for on-going pain.


Carbonated water, extracts of lemon and lime and sugar or high fructose corn syrup are the basic ingredients in most lemon-lime sodas. Carbonated water assists in hydrating the body when dehydration occurs from excessive alcohol consumption or stomach sickness. The carbonation found in this soda can also ease symptoms of indigestion. Consume high fructose corn syrup in moderation. The body metabolizes this ingredient more slowly, which could lead to weight gain. When you are sick to your stomach, especially if you are not keeping food in your system, consume up to three 8-ounce servings per day. If you are not sick, drink no more than one 8-ounce serving of soda a day, or avoid sugary drinks and stick to water. Purchase all-natural brands of lemon-lime soda made with filtered carbonated water and sugar to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but still consume in moderation.

Easing Indigestion

Indigestion, often caused by overeating, is one of the most common reasons for having an upset stomach. Gas, bloating and belching are symptoms that cause discomfort. When you consume lemon-lime soda in small sips, the carbonation helps you burp, which releases some of the built-up gas. Relieving this gas reduces the additional symptom of bloating. Gulping carbonated beverages, however, will increase gas in your system.


Excessive alcohol consumption leading to a hangover can cause nausea, making it difficult to keep food and calories in your system. Drinking excessively blocks the liver from releasing glucose into the bloodstream, which results in a drop in blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Drinking lemon-lime soda during a hangover can provide quick glucose to the system, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing abdominal pains. Glucose also helps the body burn alcohol more quickly, thereby assisting in recovery from a hangover.

Viral Gastroenteritis

If you are experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain for more than a day, you may be suffering from viral gastroenteritis, or the stomach flu. Since the body needs calories to aid in recovery from sickness, and food is not likely to stay down while suffering from the stomach flu, lemon-lime soda can give temporary relief and calories until the body is ready to hold down nutrients. Re-hydrating the body during a bout with the stomach flu is essential to recovery. By consuming lemon-lime soda and avoiding caffeinated drinks, the body can rehydrate more quickly.

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Avocado & the Liver

The liver is your largest internal organ. This vital organ carries out a myriad of functions, including converting food to energy, producing bile for digestion and removing wastes and poisons from the bloodstream. In order to maintain optimum liver function, consuming healthy food is paramount. One healthy fruit that is good for your liver is the avocado. It contains nutrients that aid in liver functioning and enhance overall liver health.


Avocados are high in fat and contain approximately 22.5 grams of fat per medium fruit. However, the majority of this fat is monounsaturated fat, known as “good fat.” Consuming monounsaturated fat assists in decreasing low-density lipoproteins or “bad cholesterol” and increasing high-density lipoproteins, known as “good cholesterol.” Good cholesterol helps clean the blood and arterial walls by diverting the bad cholesterol to the liver. The liver functions to break down and remove these fats.


Fatty liver disease is characterized by a surplus of fat in the cells of the liver, which can lead to liver inflammation and hardening. Replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat, and eating low-glycemic foods, such as vegetables and some fruits, instead of high-glycemic foods, such as chips and sugary snacks, can help individuals with fatty liver disease. Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but also function as a low-glycemic food. According to a 2007 animal study published in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology,” daily consumption of monounsaturated fat and limited saturated fat may help lower triglyceride levels in the liver, particularly among individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


The avocado provides over 20 minerals, vitamins and plant nutrients. Some of the most prominent vitamins in an avocado include vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E and vitamin C. B vitamins, like vitamin B6 and folate, support overall liver health and assist in breaking down fats. Additionally, a deficiency in folate is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer. Other vitamins, such as vitamin E, can help reduce liver inflammation and scarring among children with fatty liver disease, according to Columbia University. Similarly, vitamin C aids in flushing fats from your liver, which can assist in preventing cirrhosis.

What Are the Benefits of Watermelon for Circulation?

Watermelons may relax blood vessels, improving circulation and even improving libido and erectile function, according to Medical News Today. Watermelon gives you a sweet treat with nutrients that benefit your body. Watermelon’s citrulline converts into arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and circulatory system.


Watermelon and fresh watermelon juice contain more lycopene and beta carotene than tomatoes and tomato juice do. Dark red watermelons are particularly rich in these protective phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural plant compounds that trigger positive health effects in the body.
A 1/2 cup of diced watermelon contains only 25 calories and 6 grams of carbs, with no fat and no sodium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It supplies 10 percent of your daily vitamin C and 8 percent of vitamin A, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Vitamins C and A are antioxidants that protect your cells from damage.


Preliminary research suggests lycopene has an effect on the carotid artery’s thickness and may help to prevent cardiovascular disease by protecting LDL, “good” cholesterol, from oxidation, according to Ronald Ross Watson and Victor R. Preedy’s “Nutrition and Heart Disease: Causation and Prevention.” High concentrations of lycopene in body fat are associated with lower rates of heart attack, especially in nonsmoking men, the authors report. Protecting your heart’s health is crucial to maintaining good circulation. Oxidation of LDL refers to negative changes in LDL that may lead to heart disease. Consuming watermelon juice increases lycopene more than consuming tomato juice does. Watermelon and other foods rich in antioxidants help prevent LDL oxidation and the risk of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries that causes dangerous problems with circulation, the authors say.


Watermelon extract reduced blood pressure in obese, middle-aged people who had prehypertension or hypertension, according to American researchers who reported their findings in the June 2012 issue of the “American Journal of Hypertension.” The researchers concluded that the results suggest watermelon extract reduced arterial pressure, although further research is needed. Most of the study subjects were obese, post-menopausal women with mild high blood pressure.


Even though watermelon is sweet, it has a low glycemic load. Glycemic load considers the amount of carbohydrate per serving, offering a more accurate gauge of a food’s impact on blood sugar than the glycemic index alone does. Never attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat a health problem. Talk to your doctor about any medical concerns. Delaying appropriate treatment for a heart or circulation problem can have serious consequences.