Anti-ageing properties of tomatoes revealed by new research

Tomatoes, particularly when eaten as part of a Mediterranean-style diet, have an array of anti-ageing properties, new research in the UK reveals.
The research has once again identified lycopene, a key nutrient in tomatoes and other red vegetables and fruits, as the principle source of the health benefits, after trials with a supplement.
 They discovered the following:
  • lycopene boosts the elasticity and efficiency of blood vessels, reducing the hardening of the arteries, which occurs with age and improves blood flow
  • The supplement used in the study, brand name Ateronon,  was shown to improve flexibility of blood vessels by up to 50%.
  • Ateronon was shown to dramatically improve the function of the cells of the endothelium, the layer of cells lining the blood vessels, in the group of patients suffering from heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet, in which large amounts of vegetables are eaten,  allows populations in Southern Europe to live up to ten years longer than their Northern counterparts.
 The research team from Cambridge University has found that taking Ateronon, a newly developed version of lycopene, improves absorption into the blood to levels way above those naturally achieved by a Mediterranean diet.
 The scientists used Ateronon, a lycopene supplement, for the research and it was shown to improve flexibility of blood vessels by up to 50%. Not only that but lycopene will help revolutionise the treatment of heart disease and circulatory disease, the biggest causes of death and disease in Britain. Every year 180,000 people die from heart attacks and 49,000 from strokes, with medication for sufferers costing a further £2bn every year.
The two-month study compared the effect of Ateronon on 36 patients with pre-existing heart disease, who were already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, and 36 healthy volunteers. Both groups had an average age of 67 and comparable blood pressure readings, though those with heart disease already had noticeable blood vessel damage.
Ateronon was shown to dramatically improve the function of the cells of the endothelium, the layer of cells lining the blood vessels, in the group of patients suffering from heart disease. 
Increasing blood lycopene levels boosted the endothelium’s sensitivity to nitric oxide, the gas that triggers the dilation of the blood vessels in response to exercise and demand for increased blood flow in healthy people.
If the same results can be demonstrated in more patients, Ateronon could revolutionise the treatment of heart disease. In addition, if it is scientifically proven Ateronon does have an effect on endothelial function, then it could also have a beneficial effect on virtually every inflammatory disease process, including things like arthritis or diabetes, and even slow the development of cancer, which is also linked to inflammation.
Ian Wilkinson, director of Cambridge University’s clinical trials unit, who was involved in the study, said the results suggested that Ateronon might slow down the worsening of symptoms in people already suffering from heart disease.
Peter Kirkpatrick, a leading Cambridge neurosurgeon with an interest in strokes and circulatory disease, is now medical advisor to CamNutra, the company which has developed Ateronon and which sponsored the Cambridge trial, said: “The results from this trial are far better than anything we could have hoped for.”
He added: “This was a small group, and we now need to confirm the findings in a much larger study population.”
If the results from the next round of trials are favorable, Ateronon could also offer an effective alternative to statin treatment for heart disease sufferers who cannot tolerate the cholesterol-lowering drug.
Until now however, there has not been a way of improving the natural slow absorption of lycopene by the human body.
Mediterranean populations have always enjoyed a protective effect against heart disease from their diet, and dozens of researchers have already suggested tomatoes may be the source of this protection, though until now, an explanation of the mechanism involved has remained elusive. 
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Fuss about food – A new series on nutrition

tomatoes.jpgWe are always hearing about the latest superfood, essential fats or good carbs but what do they actually do for you? Every week a new study tells us we should be eating more tomatoes, or how much more important omega 3 oil is than omega 6.

Sadly, with each bit of new information we find ourselves just that little bit more confused. In addition to the announcements of what we should be eating each week, there are also regular reports and scare stories on how fat we are all getting.

Diet food is getting us nowhere fast. Levels of obesity are going up as fast as the amount of money we all spend on the latest meal replacement, shake or appetite suppressant. We have also recently been told that extended periods of time on low carbohydrate diets can be extremely damaging for our bodies.

That news is going to be a ‘body’ blow to many of us: the revelation that cutting out carbohydrates was an easy way to a flat stomach meant many of us could get ready for a holiday or wearing a tighter dress in a couple of weeks rather than months.

It is not hard to see where the problem lies If you walk around a supermarket and pick up random items off the shelves, how many ingredients do you actually recognise? Most foods have extra salt and sugar added to them as standard – even so called diet or reduced-calorie foods.

This has a worrying effect on our health and energy levels. The only answer is for us to learn how food affects our bodies on a chemical level. In the coming weeks Elixir will break down each of the superfoods, oils, essential vitamins and magic ingredients into small manageable pieces of information which can help us lead a healthier (and skinnier!) life.

So look out for our future ‘fuss about food’ articles, starting next Monday – we promise you will be an expert on glycaemic load and complex carbohydrates in no time at all. Monday: All the fuss about…. Omega 3

New tomato pill to cut heart disease


London: UK scientists have created a natural supplement made from tomatoes, which they claim when taken daily, prevents heart disease and strokes.

The tomato pill, branded Ateronon, contains lycopene – an antioxidant that blocks “bad” (LDL) cholesterol that chokes the cardiovascular system.

The new lycopene pill is made by a biotechnology spin-out company within Cambridge University, and will eventually go on sale to consumers.

Although research is on-going early trials involving on150 people with heart disease indicate that Ateronon can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the blood to almost zero within eight weeks, a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society will be told at Ateronon’s launch next week.

Neuroscientist Peter Kirkpatrick, who will lead a further research project at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge on behalf of Cambridge Theranostics Ltd, said the supplement could be much more effective than statin drugs that are currently used by doctors to treat high cholesterol.

Lycopene is already well-known as a powerful antioxidant which is found in the skin of tomatoes which gives them their red colour. But lycopene ingested in its natural form is poorly absorbed.

Ateronon contains a refined, more readily absorbed version of lycopene that was originally developed by Nestle.

Purple tomato may fight cancer


London: British Scientists have developed purple tomatoes which they hope may be able to keep cancer at bay.

The fruit are rich in an antioxidant pigment called anthocyanin which is thought to have anti-cancer properties, according to a study published in Nature Biotechnology.

A team from the John Innes Centre, Norwich, created the tomatoes by incorporating genes from the snapdragon flower, which is high in anthocyanin.

It was discovered that mice who ate the tomatoes lived longer. This discovery offers the potential to promote health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease

Anthocyanins, found in particularly high levels in dark coloured berries such as blackberry, cranberry and chokeberry, have been shown to help significantly slow the growth of colon cancer cells.

They are also thought to offer protection against cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative diseases.

There is also evidence that the pigments have anti-inflammatory properties, help boost eyesight, and may help stave off obesity and diabetes.

Tomatoes already contain high levels of beneficial antioxidant compounds, such as lycopene and flavonoids.

Leftover spaghetti bolognese cuts cancer risk


New York: Scientists have discovered that multiple rounds of heating left-over spaghetti bolognese with extra oil has extra health benefits.

The technique alters the structure of the main antioxidant in tomotoes – lycopene so that it is more easily absorbed into the body.Previous studies have already shown that making raw tomatoes into purees or sauces increased the benefits.

Study leader Dr Steven Schwartz, from Ohio State University in Columbus, told fellow scientists at the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.’What we have found is we can take the red tomato molecular form of lycopene and by processing it and heating it in combination with added oil, we can change the shape of the molecule so it is configured in this bent form.’

Heat is vital to the process, but so is the addition of some fat, which helps carry the lycopene through the gut walls.

The scientists processed red tomatoes into two kinds of sauce. One was rich in cislycopene – the ‘bent’ variety – while the other mostly contained all-trans-lycopene, the linear form.

A small study was then conducted on 12 volunteers who were given both types of sauce to eat. After each meal, blood samples-were taken and analysed over nine and a half hours. Lycopene blood levels were 55 per cent higher after consumption of the new sauce, the scientists found.

Can tomatoes fight Alzheimer’s?


Seol: Korean scientists have genetically modified tomatoes to produce a prototype vacinne against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease, kills brain cells when a sticky plaque known as beta-amyloid protein clogs up nerve connections.

And the disease, which starts with short-term memory loss and leads to death, is on the increase as people live longer.Current drugs do not prevent or cure it but only slow its progress.

The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology say they have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to fight the disease.

To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the beta-amyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.They then used mice to experiment with the designer tomatoes.

Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.

They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.

Tomatoes are already known as a natural antioxidant. They cut cholesterol and may help prevent some cancers (prostate, rectal and colon), protect against sunburn and are packed with vitamin C. The active ingredient is called lycopene which is responsible for the red colour.

Tomatoes help fight blood clots, say scientists

Aberdeen: Tomatoes can help fight deep vein thrombosis, according to an investigation by scientists at the Rowett Institute in the UK.

They have discovered that a yellow fluid around the seeds contains an anti-clotting substance which could help sufferers of the potentially fatal condition.

DVT usually occurs when people are inactive such as sitting for ours on planes and it is thought that as many as 12 per cent of long haul passengers may suffer from clots.

Although aspirin can be helpful some people are allergic to it and others may suffer bleeding in the stomach.

Professor Asim Duttaroy who led the research which has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that tomotoes were entirely safe and the fruit can be used to prevent rather than cure clots.

The anti-clotting substances in the tomato include flavonoids, which are known to help prevent heart attacks and cancer. The substances have already been patented under the name Fruitflow and added to the Sirco brand of fruit drinks. Drinking a quarter of a pint of the juice a day – the equvalent of six tomatoes – will give protection against clots, say the scientists. The benefits last for 18 hours.

The research also revealed that blood ‘stickiness’ was reduced by an average of 70 per cent in 220 volunteers who drank juice containing the tomato extract. Tests showed that in 97 per cent of people the substance changed the thickness of the blood so that it was less likely to clump together as a clot.