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Italians unveil anti-ageing 'super tomato'

Square variety also helps prevent heart disease, say farmers

02 July, 15:10
Italians unveil anti-ageing 'super tomato' (ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Italian farmers on Friday presented a square shaped 'super tomato' which they say can help slow the ageing process while giving people's taste buds a treat at the same time.

Farmers union Coldiretti said the new variety's anti-ageing properties stem from its high concentrations of lycopene, a red pigment that is one of the most powerful antioxidants known. Antioxidants are strong neutralizers of the free radicals that often damage human cells. The tomato was grown naturally by farmers' cooperatives in the northern regions of Emilia Romagna and Lombardy, Coldiretti said, stressing that genetically modified organisms were not used in its development.

The union served it up for the first time in delicious, lycopene-rich pasta sauces at a Rome presentation Friday.

Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, Agriculture Minister Giancarlo Galan and Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi were among the first to try it, washed down with some fine Italian red wine, along with the governors of Emilia Romagna and Lazio. ''The anti-ageing super tomato is also effective in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases and tumours,'' Coldiretti added in a statement.

Indeed, several scientific studies have said lycopene may help combat heart attacks and prostate cancer, as well as strokes.

In the first case, for example, lycopene is believed to block the oxidation of lipids and consequently reduce the formation of plaques which cause cardiovascular diseases.

Tomatoes have always been a key part of the low-fat, high-fibre Mediterranean diet, which is considered one of the best recipes against a variety of health problems, including arthritis, obesity, diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease.

Earlier this year scientists from the Naples National Research Centre presented another 'super tomato' which they said can help keep cancer at bay, in part because it too has a high lycopene content. That tomato, the Maxantia, was not a GMO either, but a simple blend of two existing varieties: the San Marzano, famed for its taste and anti-inflammatory properties, and the Black Tomato, a purple fruit high in antioxidants.

photo: Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi at the anti-ageing tomato's presentation.

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