Fruits and vegetables are good for us, this we know. But what if they could deliver even more health benefits than they already do? Dr. Alan M. Fogelman from UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and his team of researchers have found a way to genetically modify tomatoes to lower plaque build up like never before.
For the study, scientists modified tomatoes to produce a certain peptide, 6F, that has similar characteristics as ApoA-1 (that's high-density lipoprotein, or HDL — our good cholesterol). They fed mice an artery-clogging high-fat diet along with some of the modified super tomatoes and found that "the mice had lower levels of blood inflammation, higher activity of the anti-oxidant enzyme paraoxonase, boosted levels of good cholesterol, decreased lysophosphatidic acid (a tumor promoter that accelerates plaque build-up in arteries in animal models), and most importantly less atherosclerotic plaque." Regular tomatoes are good, but they're not that good.
These findings are being presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012 this week. What's the takeaway? Hopefully, you like tomatoes.
In a release by Dr. Fogelman: "To our knowledge this is the first example of a drug with these properties that has been produced in an edible plant and is biologically active when fed without any isolation or purification of the drug."
One questions still remains: Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?