JERUSALEM, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers have developed a new tomato strain that can fight severe degenerative diseases, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) said Thursday.
This new cultivar is rich in a substance called zeaxanthin, which may inhibit many degenerative diseases through the protection of light receptors in the retina from damage caused by strong blue light.
Zeaxanthin is a natural yellow coloring matter (pigment) that helps plants in the photosynthesis process and can be found mainly in corn, orange peppers, pumpkins and citrus fruits, and at very low concentrations in melons, mangos, apricots and peaches.
The researchers said adding zeaxanthin to the daily diet helps to reduce the morbidity of degenerative diseases, especially macular degeneration (AMD) that causes blindness in adults.
The development of the new tomato was done by classical genetic cultivation, using hybridizations of different strains, resulting in a new tomato strain whose zeaxanthin make up more than half of the pigments in it.
This is added to vitamins and other essential ingredients found in regular tomatoes.
The new tomato has seven times more zeaxanthin than corn, which is the main source of this substance in today's diets.
"To our knowledge, this is the highest level of zeaxanthin achieved in any major agricultural crop in the world," the researchers noted.
They named the new strain "Xantomato," a combination of "xanthophyll" (the group of substances to which zeaxanthin belongs to) and "tomato." Enditem