Melon extract linked to cardiovascular benefits: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags High-fat diet Antioxidant Nutrition

Daily consumption of an antioxidant-rich melon extract may lower cholesterol levels and prevent hardening of the arteries, according to a study with hamsters fed a high fat diet.

Consumption of the commercially-available extract Extramel, produced by France’s Bionov, in combination with a high-fat diet was associated with a reduction in cholesterol levels and non-HDL cholesterol, compared to animals fed only the high-fat diet, according to findings published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases​.

“This study provides evidence for the first time that dietary supplementation of a melon juice concentrate rich in SOD protects against diet-induced oxidative stress and atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters, and no toxicity or evidence of other unwanted pharmacological effects of Extramel was noted at either levels of supplementation,” ​wrote the researchers, led by Jean-Max Rouanet from the University of Montpellier.

“This indicates that at the low doses used here Extramel is a safe nutraceutical supplement,”​ they added.

The melon-extract is a rich source of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Dubbed 'the enzyme of life' when first discovered in 1968, it is the first antioxidant mobilised by the cell for defence. It is thought to be more powerful than antioxidant vitamins as it activates the body's production of its own antioxidants, including catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

Study details

In collaboration with researchers from BioNov, the University Hopsital Gui de Chauliac (Montpellier), and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Lapeyronie (Montpellier), the University of Montpellier researchers divided 60 hamsters into five groups. One group consumed a standard diet, while the other four consumed a high-fat diet supplemented with one of four doses of Extramel – 0, 0.7, 2.8, or 5.6 mg per day.

Dr Rouanet told NutraIngredients that hamsters were used because their development of atherosclerosis is similar to humans.

After 12 weeks, the highest dose of the melon-extract was associated with a 48 per cent reduction in total plasma cholesterol, and a 53 per cent reduction in non-HDL cholesterol, compared to the high-fat diet only group.

A reduction in the area of fatty streaks in the aorta of 49 to 85 per cent, said the researchers. Furthermore, production of the superoxide anion in the heart and liver were reduced by 45 and 67 per cent, respectively.

“These findings support the view that chronic consumption of melon juice extract rich in SOD has potential beneficial effects with respect to the development of atherosclerosis and liver steatosis, emphasizing its use as potential dietary therapy,” wrote the researchers.

“Investigation is warranted to define the mechanisms by which Extramel protects,”​ they concluded.

Source: Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
published online ahead of print, doi:
“An SOD rich melon extract Extramel prevents aortic lipids and liver steatosis in diet-induced model of atherosclerosis”
Authors: K. Decorde, E. Ventura, D. Lacan, J. Ramos, J.-P. Cristol, J.-M. Rouanet

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