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Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Jul

Watermelon a Natural Viagra?

417409312 e3386de40aA study by researchers at the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University suggests that watermelon may act as a natural version of the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra.

The Food of Lust?

While researchers have always been aware of watermelon’s high citruline content, studies had suggested that the bulk of the chemical was in the less-commonly eaten rind. However, the latest research from Dr. Bhimu Patil suggests that there are also high concentrations in the more tasty flesh of the fruit.

So what’s the big deal with citruline? Well, according to Dr. Patil, the study’s director, when this phytonutrient is digested, an enzymatic process converts it to arginine, a type of amino acid that boosts nitric oxide, which in turn relaxes blood vessels to produce….uhhh…similar results to Viagra.

Up Up and Away?

Think you need to add a little watermelon to spice up your sex life? Consider this: Patil has yet to figure out the amount you would need to ingest in order to see results and notes that “watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra.”

Meanwhile, the editor in chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine notes that “to say that watermelon is Viagra-like is sort of fun, but to even vaguely hope that eating watermelon will alleviate ED is misleading.”

Echoing his sentiments, an adjunct professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California notes that calling watermelon a natural Viagra is “clearly premature” (not sure if pun was intended there!)

Help Outside the Bedroom?

But even if watermelon won’t turn you into a stud in the sack, there are a few benefits that we can all enjoy. For one, that same mechanism that helps put the wind into men’s sails also relaxes blood vessels elsewhere in the body, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure and help improve circulatory and immune function.

Arginine Alternatives?

Despite the benefits of watermelon – and the fact that it is nearly 90% water – it should be noted that watermelon is quite high in sugar. For a less carb-centric source of arginine, cucumbers and cantaloupe are good – albeit lower dose – alternatives. Scientists also note that walnut seedlings are a viable option for those looking to increase their intake, although these can be hard to come by outside of a health food store and are not exactly going to earn any awards for their taste!

The take home message: As we’ve said before, food is the cornerstone of a healthy life, but a red flag should go up when superfood claims are made. Don’t expect to become Don Juan overnight after downing a slice of this monster melon.

giniger Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

10 True Old Wives’ Tales

Being Fit is Good For Sex

Top 10 Health Marketing Buzz Terms (Ripe for Skepticism)

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