Tallahassee, Fla. -- Mark Twain called watermelon the food of angels.
Florida State Professor Bahram Arjmandi savors that description as he slices up a juicy watermelon in his office and offers the slices to a visitor.
Arjmandi calls watermelon a magical fruit. And he should know.
He and a colleague, Professor Arturo Figueroa, conducted a study that discovered watermelon lowers blood pressure.
They gave four grams of watermelon extract to four men and five women for six weeks. All of them had lower blood pressure at the end of the study.
Figueroa says watermelon has this effect because it contains lots of L-citrulline, which your body converts to nitric oxide.
"Nitric oxide is a very potent substance and one of its functions is to produce enlargement of the diameter of the arteries and that decreases blood pressure."
Professor Arjmandi says people sometimes complain about the price of watermelon, but he reminds them to compare it to the cost of a prescription drug.
"Think about it, you think this is expensive, but if you go buy any medicine even your co-payment will sometimes add up to be $40 and you don't mind that."
Arjmandi's magical fruit offers more. He says it's also packed with lycopene -- a powerful antioxidant believed to help prevent prostate cancer. He says tomatoes have received most of the press about lycopene, but watermelon contains even more.
The professors conclude watermelon is especially beneficial for people with diabetes or hypertension. But to emphasize that the fruit is great for anyone, Arjmandi quotes the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and he adds, "Trust me, it not only is tasty but it is also packed with nutrients that can benefit all of us."