||Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM
April 11 (foodconsumer.org) - British supermarket giant Tesco has launched a super tomato that contains unusually high levels of lycopene, a compound touted as a cancer-preventative.
Tesco said that its Healthy Living Tomato on the Vine contains twice the amount of lycopene found in other normally bred tomatoes.
Lycopene, the pigment that imparts the red color to tomatoes, is known to have anti-oxidant properties, which play a crucial role in protecting against cell damages in the body, which in turn can lead to cancer development.
Previous studies have already linked tomatoes with the lower risk of prostate, colorectal and breast cancers.
One study involving thousands of participants found that eating 10 or more servings of tomatoes every week reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by 45 percent.
Other studies have claimed that tomatoes are vital in reducing the so-called "bad" cholesterol in the blood and thus preventing heart disease.
All studies found that the health benefits of tomatoes are attributed to lycopene. Because of this, Tesco has moved to increase the quantity of lycopene in tomatoes, which was called as "love apple" in ancient times.
"The health benefits of anti-oxidants such as lycopene in our diets have recently attracted a lot of positive attention from both the medical and culinary worlds," observed Ian Reed, the technical produce manager at Tesco.
"Functional foods such as tomatoes naturally have high levels of lycopene however this naturally-bred variety has even higher levels than standard ones and tastes great as well."
These tomatoes will go on sale in packs or four or five costing ?.89.
While experts have welcomed the fact that Tesco has sought to encourage healthy living, others like Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK's science information officer, are skeptical. Scowcroft was of the opinion that there was no clear evidence that eating plenty of tomatoes could directly reduce the risk for prostate cancer.
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