Booster Shots

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Watermelon fun

July 7, 2008 |  4:43 pm


Like many last weekend, I ate slice after slice of watermelon, scrunching the fruit right down to the rind. My appetite insatiable, I took another whole watermelon and ground it up, making a pitcher of watermelon juice. And I am here to report, the melon and the juice tasted good.

Yep. That's it.

Who knows what else I'd have to say if I were a man? According to a news release from Texas A&M University, watermelon contains a chemical with Viagra-like properties. The chemical in question-- citrulline, richest in the rind of the melon--is converted into the amino acid arginine when it gets into the body. "Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has," says watermelon researcher Bhimu Patil of Texas A&M, in the news release.

The release doesn't refer to any studies done by the scientists demonstrating Viagra-like properties in humans or animals, or experiments in dishes with little pieces of human penile tissue, as was done for compound UK-92,480, the name that Viagra once went under.  And if arginine's the business, why not cut out the middle man and scarf it directly? Or go for protein-rich foods? (Proteins, you'd think, would have plenty of arginine, since they're made of amino acids.)

Though these are pressing issues, maybe what we're really seeing here is yet another jostle in the battle for superfruit supremacy. Already, as we reported last week, mangosteens and açai berries are facing potential healthful-fruit challenges from the decidedly-odd-looking baobob tree. And now, this.  "The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body," Patil says.   

Fruit. It's good for you. Eat lots of it. Maybe we should just be satisfied with that?

-- Rosie Mestel

Photo: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press