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Updated: July 24, 2011 18:34 IST

Tomato plants produce unique antioxidant

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Antioxidants produced by tomato plants have beneficial health properties, such as helping to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer.
AP
Antioxidants produced by tomato plants have beneficial health properties, such as helping to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer.

A new natural antioxidant synthesised by tomato plants is 14 times as potent as resveratrol, the wonder compound and antioxidant in red wine, which delays ageing.

Antioxidants have beneficial health properties, such as helping to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer. Therefore, the compound could have major applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

Researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP) in Spain have identified the compound, which was completely unknown until now, reports the journal Environmental and Experimental Botany.

IBMCP researchers point out that the antioxidant is also 4.5 times more potent than vitamin E and 10 times more potent than vitamin C.

“Many phenolic compounds are produced by plants in response to biotic or abiotic stress. These compounds have multiple effects, including antioxidant activity,” IBMCP director Vicente Conejero said.

Biotic stress occurs as a result of damage done to plants by other living organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, beneficial and harmful insects or experimentally, according to an IBMCP statement.

This substance could have multiple applications. For example, in the food industry it could be used as a preservative in food for human consumption.

In the cosmetic industry it could be used in products for skin care, given its possible properties related to the prevention of ageing.

This powerful antioxidant would prevent changes such as fats and oils becoming rancid, which diminishes food quality extremely. It could also be used as a supplement to functional products.



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