‘Eating your vegetables just got a whole lot healthier. An Israeli company has just created a new tasty tomato that is high in natural antioxidants that can help treat and prevent disease.
Naturally bred to include high amounts of the compound lycopene, previously available only as a dietary supplement, the Israeli-developed Lyc-O-Mato brand self-dried cherry tomato raisin will now be available as a food additive.
Lycopene is a nutrient and antioxidant that is naturally occurring in small quantities in vegetables such as tomatoes. It has been suggested that it can help treat cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even male infertility. It is also useful in supporting skin health.
LycoRed Israel’s Lyc-O-Mato will be launched at the end of July at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists. Developed for the purpose of fortification in everyday foods at Israel’s Volcani Agricultural Research Institute, each tomato provides over 1mg of lycopene. Ordinary tomatoes, several times larger than the dried out Lyc-O-Mato, only contain a fraction of a milligram of the substance. It is recommended to consume 5mg daily, so eating only five of these tomatoes daily fulfills dietary recommendations.
Naturally occurring in tomatoes, it is the lycopene that gives tomatoes their red coloring. The Lyc-O-Mato brand of self-drying tomatoes were bred and commercialized by the Israeli company, Tomaisins International, Ltd. Tomaisins approached LycoRed to determine the level of the nutrient. They were shocked to discover that these tomatoes contained levels of lycopene several times higher than in ordinary tomatoes.
According to the makers, self-dried cherry tomatoes provide a nutritious and tasty addition to a wide variety of foods that will benefit from the savory flavor and added tomato. These tomato raisins can be diced into four to eight slices and used in any food.
Lyc-O-Mato is found in many brands of dietary supplements available at many health food stores in the United States, Israel, and Europe. While LycoRed retains the rights to market the tomatoes as a health food, the developer of the tomato, Tomaisins, retains the right to sell them for their flavor alone, without the health claims.
Because a tomato is universally recognized as a healthy food, by fortifying foods with this special tomato, LycoRed is able to avoid complex regulatory barriers often encountered in the food supplement industry. Ordinary, regulatory approval is required for fortification, yet when tomato pulp is added as a food ingredient, no regulation is required.
“If we are devoted to nutrition and innovation, this is the way,” Zohar Nir, LycoRed’s VP of New Product Development and Scientific Affairs told Food Navigator.
“The development of this unique means of delivering lycopene for fortification allows us to offer yet another lycopene fortification ingredient that complies with a clean label,” said Nir. “These tasty little cherry tomatoes are perfect for fortifying rice mixes, cereals, savory snacks, pastas and as the lycopene ingredient in nutrition bars.”