Our bodies battle damage due to free radicals on a daily basis. Free radicals cause negative changes that impact how we feel. The most common factor increasing the amount of free radicals is molecule oxidation. When molecules lose electrons, free radicals are formed. Antioxidants are chemicals that negate the effects of oxidation. Recently, a team of researchers from John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom developed a new variety of tomato that contains a plethora of heart-healthy antioxidants. Medicomp, providers of mobile cardiac telemetry, believe its patients may benefit from this heart-friendly tomato and is eager to share the information with its customers.
By inserting a protein from an Arabidopsis thaliana – a small, flowering plant common in the UK – into a traditional tomato plant, scientists were able to engineer a super tomato containing more antioxidants than would be found in several cases of red wine.
The protein, AtMYB12, activated phenylpropanoids, which work with other factors to prevent cancer, heart disease, and other debilitating illnesses. Adding AtMYB12 stimulated cells within the tomato dedicates energy to creating more and more phenylpropanoids.
Because tomato plants are easy to grow, produce plentiful fruit, and bloom for months on end, the amount of fruit produced is substantial. Tomatoes from these plants are harvested and pressed with the compounds extracted and purified directly from tomato juice for nutritional and medicinal uses. Dr. Yang Zhang, co-author of the study, reports that “[m]edicinal plants with high value are often difficult to grow and manage, and need very long cultivation times to produce the desired compounds,” – a significant difference from these new tomatoes.
Scientists are excited about the results, believing antioxidant super tomatoes are only the beginning. Zhang, along with his colleagues, wishes to design plants with a myriad of beneficial compounds. For instance, terpenoids and alkaloids, known to relax tense muscles, reduce inflammation, and aid in the battle with depression, have been sequestered from DNA and could be added to another fast-growing plant to maximize the benefits of the pulp, juice, or entire fruit. Cathie Martin, the lead author of the study, states, “Our work will be of interest to different research areas including fundamental research on plants, plant/microbe engineering, medicinal plant natural products, as well as diet and health research.”
For more information on the latest research and technology in heart health, such as mobile cardiac telemetry, read Medicomp’s blogs, or contact them by calling (800) 23-HEART (234-3278).