Texas A&M scientists say watermelon contains ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body's blood vessels and may even increase the libido.
Researchers from Texas A&M long have studied the fruit and found that it contains natural "enhancers" to the human body.
"We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important healthful benefits grows longer with each study," said Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, in a news release from the university.
Watermelon and some other fruits and vegetables contain phyto-nutrients, including lycopene, beta carotene and citrulline, which are compounds that produce healthy reactions in the body, Patil said.
Specifically, scientists believe it's the citrulline that has the ability to relax blood vessels, much like Viagra does.
When watermelon is consumed, citrulline is converted into the amino acid arginine, which works "wonders on the heart and circulation system and maintains a good immune system," Patil said.
"Watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra," he said, "but it's a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side-effects."
The highest concentrations of citrulline are found in the rind of the watermelon. Because the rind is not commonly eaten, Texas A&M researchers Steve King and Hae Jeen Bang are working to produce watermelon hybrids that would bring higher concentrations of citrulline to the flesh of the fruit.