This juicy red fruit could be the new sexual star. While watermelon is 92 percent water, the remaining eight percent contains the phytonutrient citrulline, which converts to arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, according to 2008 research from Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural sciences. Although not as organ-specific as drugs that treat men’s erectile dysfunction, watermelon may help improve blood flow to erectile tissue (present in the female clit¬oral area as well as the male penis), increasing arousal. Scientists at the university’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center are now working on increasing the fruit’s citrulline content.
But if you are trying to conceive, don’t overdo it! Watermelon, like tomatoes, contains the antioxidant lycopene, which is in the same family as carotene and therefore has the same beneficial antioxidant effects. On the one hand, that’s great since carotene, found in many brightly coloured foods, has been shown to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. But it is also anti-estrogenic, says Dr. Sony Sierra, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Toronto’s LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine, “so a very high volume may block estrogen and prevent the lining of the uterus from growing and the fertilized egg from implanting.” Some of Sierra’s patients have disordered eating habits and eat massive amounts of high-carotene foods such as carrots or kale. She advises clients to follow Canada’s Food Guide, which recommends a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, in seven or eight half-cup servings daily for women (up to 10 servings for men).