Black tomatoes that could stave off cancer arrive in the UK

Black tomatoes are being grown in Britain for the first time and they could have the potential to stave off cancer. The fruit is among the first in the world to contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant believed to help fight cancer, diabetes and obesity.

The tomato’s jet black colour stems from pigments in its skin which develop when exposed to sunlight.

Ray Brown, 66, who runs Plant World Seeds, first came across the unusual fruit when a customer sent him a mystery package entitled 'black tomato'. Confused by the enigmatic the label, he sowed the product and was stunned at the resulting black tomatoes which appeared.

Mr Brown, from Newton Abbot, Devon, said: 'A customer sent us some seeds just named 'black tomato' last winter and we couldn't believe that they were real so we sowed them in the spring to see. 'We are always looking for something original. Nobody has every produced black tomatoes, the closest they have got are brown ones and orange ones. They are completely new, as far as I'm aware they have never, ever been grown in this country before.'

The tomatoes are believed to have been developed at Oregon State University, in America, forming part of their 'Indigo Rose' project. They are ripe when their colour changes from a shiny blue-purple to an almost jet black, with the bottoms of the tomatoes turning red.

The dark version of the fruit rich high in beneficial anthocyanins, which are compounds found in fruits, vegetables and beverages. Some believe the anti-oxidant can help with diabetes, cancer and obesity. They aroused interest of the scientific community after their powerful health boosting effects were discovered during American lab tests.

'They are edible, we've eaten lots, they have a nice taste and a really lovely flavour. The only way to describe it is a good, strong tomatoey taste. The fruit is also unique because it doesn't use genetic engineering to create it' added Mr Brown, who currently has no plans to market the black tomatoes. 'It is entirely done by selection techniques.'


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