Modified tomatoes contain powerful quantities of disease-fighting compounds
Phenylpropanoids such as resveratrol have been found to pack great health benefits, but naturally occurring concentrations of them are often woefully low.
British scientists recently discovered a way to modify a tomato so a single piece of the produce contains a quantity of the health-booster equivalent to 50 bottles of red wine. They also treated a similar tomato so it packs the same genistein punch as five and a half pounds of tofu.
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Both plant chemicals have been linked with reduced risks of certain ailments. Resveratrol is often lauded as staving off Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Genistein has, in some studies, been connected to breast cancer prevention.
The researchers accomplished the feat of transforming tomatoes into rich sources of both by introducing a protein typically found in thale cress.
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That additive resulted in an outpouring of phenylpropanoid production, and gene encoding allowed for the creation of the specific varieties.
Noted Dr. Yang Zhang, one of the developers of the approach, "Medicinal plants with high value are often difficult to grow and manage, and need very long cultivation times to produce the desired compounds."
Tomatoes, on the other hand, are a crop that is both easily and quickly cultivated.
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