Purple tomato 'may boost health'

Scientists have developed purple tomatoes which they hope may be able to keep cancer at bay.

The fruit are rich in an antioxidant pigment called anthocyanin which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. A team from the John Innes Centre, Norwich, created the tomatoes by incorporating genes from the snapdragon flower, which is high in anthocyanin.

The study, published in Nature Biotechnology, found mice who ate the tomatoes lived longer. Anthocyanins, found in particularly high levels in berries such as blackberry, cranberry and chokeberry, have been shown to help significantly slow the growth of colon cancer cells. They are also thought to offer protection against cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative diseases. There is also evidence that the pigments have anti-inflammatory properties, help boost eyesight, and may help stave off obesity and diabetes.

The John Innes team is investigating ways to increase the levels of health-promoting compounds in more commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes already contain high levels of beneficial antioxidant compounds, such as lycopene and flavonoids.

Source - BBC

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