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Nutrition Feature Article

Research shows eating watermelon may increase sex drive with Viagra-like effects


A big piece of fresh, juicy watermelon can make the mouth water and cool down a person on a hot summer’s day. But according to research, that’s not the only value of the fruit. Eating watermelon delivers Viagra-like effects on blood vessels throughout the body and may even increase libido, said Bhimu Patil, director of the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University (USA). One of the major nutrients contained in the fruit is citruline, an ingredient that is abundant in the flesh and rind of the watermelon. When consumed in large quantities, citruline reacts with the body’s enzymes and forms a compound called arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart along with the immune and circulatory systems.

“Arginine boosts nitric acid, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) and maybe even prevent it,” said Patil. “I knew watermelon was full of nutrients, but I had no idea it acted similarly to Viagra,” said Jeremy Burnam, a sophomore Hospitality and Tourism Management major at the University of Massachusetts. Watermelon may seem like the perfect item to add some spark to a relationship. However, while Viagra is made specifically to treat ED, watermelon is not organ specific, Patil added. Anyone taking Viagra should not expect to see the same result from watermelon, said Todd Wehner, a researcher in the department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. “It sounds like an effect that would be interesting but not a substitute for any medical treatment,” he said.

Other research suggests that it would take at least six full cups of watermelon to obtain enough arginine necessary for producing Viagra-like effects. Side effects of eating this much watermelon at once though include cramping, diarrhea, and a potential increase of sugar levels in the blood stream. “I don’t know if it would be worth it to eat that much watermelon just for some extra blood flow,” said Matthew Button, a sophomore and Criminal Justice major at Worcester State College. “I feel that if someone has ED they are better off seeking medical attention.” Despite the debate on whether watermelon really does increase sex drive, there is however some definite truth about the fruit’s health benefits.

Watermelon contains a variety of nutrients that are all beneficial to the body, including lycopene, beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Ingredients in the fruit are proven to protect the heart and skin, and even lower the risk of prostate cancer.

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