Part of the show How does the Brain Generate Consciousness, Prof. Susan Greenfield
Sometimes the best things happen when we least expect it. This was the case for researchers at Purdue University in the US who were experimenting with genetically-modified tomatoes in order to increase the quality of the fruit and the duration of he reipening time. In order to achieve this a gene from yeast, which prolongs life by stabilsing certain naturally-occuring substances in the cell, was added to the tomoato plants. As a side effect of this process the researchers discovered a significant increase in the amount of one of these factors called lycopene - the chemical responsible for the characteristic red colour of the fruit. So what is so special about lycopene ? Well, in the medical press it seems to be a bit of a superstar. Studies have shown that an increase in lycopene in the diet can guard against prostate and breast cancer. It can even reduce the amount of LDL - so called "bad cholesterol" - in the blood, which decreases the risk of heart disease. So maybe these super-tomatoes could help to make your salad even better for you.