University of California, Los Angeles, researchers have used genetic engineering to develop a tomato containing amino acids that mimic the actions of good cholesterol when consumed.
An early study found that mice fed these freeze-dried tomatoes had less inflammation and plaque build-up in their arteries, according to a news release.
After the tomatoes are eaten, the amino acid group—known as an apoA-1 peptide—was active in the small intestine but not in the blood.
This suggested to researchers that focusing on the small intestine may be a new strategy to prevent atherosclerosis, which causes plaque build-up in arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The peptide would be considered a drug if given as an injection or in a pill form. But when included as part of a plant, fruit or vegetable, it is no different than the same organism that hasn't been transformed.
Their findings were published in the April issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.