While eating an apple a day could keeps the undertaker away, a cooked tomato may be the biggest source of a powerful antioxidant to prevent disease.
Eating tomatoes can help reduce the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Not only that, but cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones.
U.S researchers found the juicy vegetable is the biggest source of powerful antioxidant dietary lycopene, and unlike other fruit and vegetables it has greater potency after it is cooked.
Scientists at the National Centre of Food and Safety in Illinois said the nutrient contains protective mechanisms that help prevent inflammation and blood clots.
A strong link has already been established between the wonder veg and a lower risk of certain diseases such as prostate cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Dr Britt Burton-Freeman and and Dr Kristin Reimers, who carried out the review, said: 'Leveraging emerging science about tomatoes and tomato products may be one simple and effective strategy to help individuals increase vegetable intake, leading to improved overall eating patterns, and ultimately, better health.
'Research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.'
'The evidence also suggests that consumption of tomatoes should be recommended because of the nutritional benefits and because it may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing overall vegetable intake.'
The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently reported that
fruit flies given an apple extract live ten percent longer. The fruit flies also found it easier to walk, climb and move about as they aged.
The apple extract also cut levels of various biochemicals found in older fruit flies and linked to age-related deterioration.
The researchers, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believe that the antioxidants in the extract mopped up free radicals – dangerous chemicals blamed for a host of ills, including aging.
A spokesman for the American Chemical Society said: ‘The results, obtained with fruit flies – stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year – bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests.’
“It was unlikely that the lifespan-prolonging activity of AP (apple polyphenols) in the fruit flies was associated with any changes in food intake as the gustatory assay found no difference in average body weight and stomach redness index between the control and AP fruit flies,” wrote the researchers.
They also found that polyphenols not only prolonged the average lifespan of fruit flies but also helped to preserve their ability to walk and climb.
Chen and colleagues note that the results support those from other studies. They highlighted one study, by Sesso et al published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in which women who often ate apples had a 13-22 per cent decrease in the risk of heart disease.
In another study, researchers who quizzed thousands of women about their diets found that those who regularly ate apples were 20 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.
No similar studies on apple polyphenols’ ability to extend lifespan have been conducted in either animals or humans, they wrote. But they did highlight a study where apple juice concentrate, administered ad lib in drinking water, compensated for the increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), and decline in cognitive performance in mice deprived of folate and vitamin E. The study was conducted by Rogers et al and published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.
The research suggests that around 65million years ago, the time when a comet is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs, the plant that would eventually give rise to the apple tree underwent a massive and rapid genetic change, in which many of its genes were duplicated.
The extra genes allowed the apple to adapt to tougher conditions and sent it along a different evolutionary path from peaches, strawberries and other related fruit.