A new variety of tomato containing very high levels of an antioxidant that could cut the risk of prostate cancer has been launched by British supermarket chain Tesco.
The specially bred fruit was created naturally by crossing varieties with high lycopene levels, linked with reducing the risk of certain cancers, the online edition of the Daily Mail reported.
Lycopene is an antioxidant that is thought to halt cell damage in the body and it gives tomatoes their red colour.
Tesco says the new tomato contains roughly a third more lycopene than other varieties. The supermarket chain sells more than 70,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year and is trying out the new variety in the stores in Sussex.
Ian Reed, the chain’s produce technical manager, said: “This is the first step for Tesco into the developing world of functional foods and we plan to extend our range as public interest grows.”
Chris Hiley, head of research for the Prostate Cancer Charity, said the effect of lycopene on prostate cancer had been studied but added: “We still can’t come to a firm conclusion that the risk of prostate cancer is reduced by increasing lycopene intake.
“It is very clear that people should eat a varied and healthy diet, and tomato and tomato-based products have a place in that.”