A natural ingredient found in tomato seeds has been identified by British scientists as a key component to a long and healthy life.
The gel prevents the blood from becoming sticky and clotting and so is being promoted as a natural alternative to aspirin. It was discovered by food researchers investigating the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
Patented as Fruitflow, it is already being used in one fruit juice product and is now expected to be added to dairy drinks, spreads and other foods. EU health watchdogs have accepted that the ingredient does improve blood flow and have approved the use of such claims on packaging.
Fruitflow was discovered in 1999 by Professor Asim Dutta-Roy at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen.
It is derived from the gel around tomato seeds. Clinical trials have shown it can help maintain a healthy blood circulation by preventing the clumping of blood platelets which can lead to clots.
Both Fruitflow and aspirin work by changing the characteristics of platelets, which are tiny cells in the blood. Normally they are smooth, but inflammation in the blood vessels - linked to smoking, high cholesterol and stress - causes them to become spiky and so stick together, forming clots. Aspirin strongly blocks one set of signals that causes this to happen. Fruitflow more gently damps down three others, enough to reduce the risk of clotting.