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Is Watermelon Good for Arthritis?

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June 30, 2018
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist







Arthritis is an inflammatory disease, so eating any fruit or
vegetable that lowers the levels of internal inflammation in your
body will give you some relief. But some fruits and vegetables
are particularly good at lowering inflammation and watermelon
is one of them. What is it in watermelon that lowers the
inflammation of arthritis? How does watermelon's anti-
inflammatory effect measure up against other fruits and
pharmaceutical drugs?

What Is It in Watermelon That Reduces Arthritis Inflammation?


The working theory of how food reduces inflammation goes
like this. Inflammation starts when the body perceives an injury
and it sends pro-inflammatory compounds, including cytokines
and tumor necrosis factor-alpha to the site of the injury. You
can injure yourself by, for example, cutting your hand, and see
the inflammation that results. The site swells. The fluids in that
swelling contain these pro-inflammatory compounds.

As the injury heals, the levels of pro-inflammatory compounds
subside. And that's a good thing because their presence
indicates that your autoimmune system is working at high gear
to get you healed.

The same inflammatory system that heals your finger from a
paper cut also heals your arteries and your joints when they
are injured. Except, in the case of your arteries or joints, the
cause of the injury is not a paper cut, it is an internal process
that involves free radicals like peroxide. These free radical
compounds are unstable because, at the level of chemistry,
they are missing a hydrogen molecule. When they bounce
against other molecules in the tissue of your joints or arteries,
they literally pull off a hydrogen atom, creating damage. The
body perceives this as an injury --- which it is --- the immune
system kicks in and the inflammation cascade begins.

But unlike the external paper cut, these internal injuries do not
heal on their own as easily. The injuries to your joints can
happen again and again and become chronic because, well, you
use your joints.

Also, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the body's attempts to
heal itself make the problem worse. One
2013 study from Dr.
Mariana Kaplan of the National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases showed how.  

When a joint is injured, the body sends white blood cells called
"Neutrophils", to the site of the injury. There, the white blood
cells excrete a type of mesh (" neutrophil extracellular trap").
This mesh works its way between cells to trap bacteria and
fungi. Unfortunately,  the mesh also triggers the release of cells
("synoviocytes) that trigger inflammation and joint pain.

The only way to heal the joint is to send in troops of
compounds that can fight the cause of the inflammation,
something to douse the free radicals.  Those rescuing troops
are anti-oxidants.

There are many different types of anti-oxidants and each one is
specific in terms of the type of condition it can heal. For
example, fruits and vegetables that are colored blue, purple or
red are rich in an anti-inflammatory called anthocyanins, and,
as we've written before, these can help to lower your body in
many different ways.

The mistake most people is to lump these anthocyanins or
other antioxidants together. No, these anti-inflammatories act
in very specific ways. Some are good at lowering inflammation
in joints, some not. Some are good at lowering the risk for
cancer or heart disease, some not so much.

The anti-inflammatory found in watermelon is called
"carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin". Studies have found that this
particular anti-oxidant is especially effective against
inflammation in joints.

The Anti-Oxidant in Watermelon Works Especially Well Against
Joint Inflammation
































In 2005, scientists at The University of Manchester, United
Kingdom, completed a study of over 25,000 people to examine
the effect of including cartenoid beta-cryptoxanthin in your diet
against polyarthritis. They defined polyarthritis as having two
or more arthritic joints.

At the start of the study, the research team took detailed,
individual dietary questionaires from each participant, noting
the levels of cartenoid beta-cryptoxanthin.

At the end of the study, they compared the diets of the
participants that had developed arthritis in two or more joints
to the diets of those who had not developed arthritis.

What they found was that those at the top levels of cartenoid
beta-cryptoxanthin intake had a  51% lower risk of developing
arthritis.

As the scientists concluded, the data showed that "a modest
increase in beta-cryptoxanthin intake, equivalent to one glass
of freshly squeezed orange juice per day, is associated with a
reduced risk of developing inflammatory disorders such as
rheumatoid arthritis."

How Much Cartenoid Beta-crytoxanthin Does Watermelon
Have?

One study puts the cryptoxanthin content of watermelon at
70+μg retinol equivalents/100 g. This study came from the
University of Nebraska in 2001.



Compare this to orange juice, which one study estimates has
between 314. 09 to 411 micrograms/100gof cartenoid beta-
crytoxanthin, about 5 times more than watermelon. This was
reported from a 2002 study from  Ciudad Universitaria.


In fact, there are several other fruts and vegetables with
higher beta-crytoxanthin counts than watermelon. A 2016
study led by Dr. Betty Burri of Western Human Nutrition
Research Center, US Department of Agriculture, reported these
contents:



Common foods rich in β

β-Cryptoxanthin (µg/100 g of food)

Butternut squash (3471)
Persimmons (1447)
Hubbard squash (1119)
Hot chili peppers (1103)
Tangerines (canned 775; raw 407)

Papaya (589)
Sweet red peppers (490)
Rose hips (483)
Sweet pickles (271)
Carrots (199)
Kumquats (191)
Orange juice (169)
Sweet corn (161)
Oranges (116)

So, you can get your fill of bone protective beta-cryptoxanthins
from a large source of foods other than watermelon, if you
happen not to like watermelon.

We have searched to see if there is anything special about the
cartenoid betacrytoxanthins in watermelon that would make
them better than, say, the same anti-oxidant found in any of
the other fruits and vegetables on this list in reducing the
crippling pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, and we
found no study that would suggest any difference at all.













































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Watermelon contains antioxidant
that lowers inflammation in
rheumatoid arthritis.