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Live to a ripe old age with fat-busting tomato tablet

Metro

It has long been hailed as the secret to a long life and now the Mediterranean diet has been harnessed in a pill.

The compound, made from the skin of ripe tomatoes, has the potential to cut the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and even fight cancer, experts believe.

The findings were ‘very exciting indeed’, said project leader Joseph Cheriyan, of Cambridge University.

‘Wonder drug’ Ateronon is easily absorbed into the blood to levels way above those naturally achieved by a Mediterranean diet, which sees southern Europeans living up to ten years longer than those in north.

It incorporates a newly developed version of lycopene which boosts blood vessel flexibility by 50 per cent and softens arteries hardened with age. Ateronon had previously been hailed for unclogging arteries but the latest tests on just 36 people suggest it could help millions fighting other illnesses.

If this modified lycopene really does have an effect on blood vessels, then it could have a beneficial effect on virtually every inflammatory disease process, including things like arthritis or diabetes,’ said David Fitzmaurice, of Birmingham University who has been asked to recruit volunteers for further trials.

The British Heart Foundation gave a cautious welcome to the findings but said there was ‘a long way to go’ before demonstrating that lycopene could help people with heart disease.

‘We still say the best way to get the benefits of a Mediterranean diet is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables,’ a BHF spokesman added.

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