Purple Tomatoes – Modified For Health

by Malc on October 30, 2008

Purple-tomato-CaptionScientists have ‘modified’ tomatoes to make them purple. They have done this by modifying them genetically such that they contain anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are a type of a class of substance called flavonoids, which show anti-oxidant activity. Flavonoids produce yellow, red or blue colouration in flowers and fruit. They also offer protection against insects and microbes.

Anthocyanins in particular produce a purple colouration, usually in fruit. Fruits containing anthocyanins include the Vaccinium species – such as bilberries and blueberries and the Rubus species – such as blackberry and raspberry.

Antioxidant Properties Help Indirectly

The first lesson we learn about antioxidants is that they ‘mop up’ free radicals – the oxygen-robbing substances which begin or accelerate cancer, heart disease and aging. However, although anthocyanins – and the flavonoids in general – are antioxidants, the way they help us is not by mopping up free radicals directly. Their benefits are indirect.


Particularly, in some way anthocyanins and flavonoids stimulate phase II of the important two phase liver-detox process. The enhanced Phase II then carries out its normal function of eliminating toxins from the body with extra power.

In this way our DNA can be protected, for example, reducing the likelihood of cancer starting.

Eat Purple Tomatoes – Or Stick With Blueberries?

So – do you want tomatoes modified to be purple; or would you prefer just to stick with eating purple berries which grow naturally?

A purple tomato seems to me to be much like taking an anthocyanin supplement. It has to be easier to get people – eg family members who are not great on fruit and vegetables – to eat tomatoes than to eat blackberries and blueberries every day. Let’s have the choice.

The scientists say at least here is a direct consumer benefit of genetic modification, rather than one designed purely to make money.

Science Daily Article

Previous post: DNA – Cheap Genome Gets Nearer

Next post: Live A Long Life – Swallow A Nanobot