The lycopene in watermelon is a well-documented inhibitor of many inflammatory processes, including the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules, the expression of enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase that can lead to increased inflammatory response, and the activity of molecular signaling agents like nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB). Lycopene is also a well-known antioxidant, with the ability to neutralize free radical molecules.
One study showed red watermelon to contain over 600 micrograms of beta-carotene per 3.5 ounces of melon and over 6,500 micrograms of lycopene.
Watermelon is a unusual fruit source of the carotenoid lycopene and a rich source of phenolic antioxidants. Watermelon containscucurbitacin E, a triterpene anti-inflammatory phytounutrient, and unusual amounts of the amino acid citruline.
Citrulline is alpha amino gamma ureidovaleric acid. It is formed from ornithine and takes part in the synthesis of urea. It donates one of its nitrogen for the systhesis of urea. Arginine is synthesized from citrulline in presence of aspartic acid, ATP and Mg ++ Citrulline is found in high concentration in the liver. Citrulline is not a component of any major proteins or enzymes.
In the mitochondria, the ‘power house’ of cells, ammonia combines with carbon dioxide and ornithine to form citrulline. Citrulline is then transported out of the mitochondria into the cytoplasm where it is then converted to yet another amino acid called arginine. Thus citrulline is essential to detoxify and remove ammonia from muscle and liver cells.
Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid and plays a role in nitrogen balance and
metabolic processes. Although not a component of most proteins in the body, citrulline is found in some specialized proteins in the hair, skin and neural cells. It is primarily synthesized from glutamine in the intestines but is also found naturally in trace amounts in some foods.
Citrulline supplied by the diet is efficiently absorbed from the stomach and enters the blood via the major vein draining the digestive system that empties into the liver. Much of it bypasses uptake in the liver and is then circulated for distribution to the kidneys, brain, muscle and other tissues for conversion to arginine.