Researchers create healthier fruit and veg using genes from red beets

Researchers from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have been working on developing new varieties of vegetables and fruits in new and unconventional colours and with even more nutritional values.

They managed to implant potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes with beet genes with excellent results.

Thanks to Israeli researchers, you may soon be able to buy exciting new fruits and vegetables at your nearest farmer's market: Just ask the seller for purple tomatoes, red eggplants and some purple potatoes. The produce is even healthier and more mould resistant.

Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rechovot recently created colourful fruits and vegetables after they introduced three genes of red beets into potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. The result led to purple-red tinted vegetables but also increased their nutritional value considerably: They now contain 60% more antioxidants and are 90% more resistant to mould.

Professor Assaf Aharoni and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Guy Polturk of the Weizmann Institute, the two researchers behind the new discovery, not only managed to transfer beneficial health traits from beets to other fruits and vegetables, but they also managed to isolate the colour changes; even if a fruit or vegetable's colour was changed, its stems and leaves maintained their original colours.

"Pigments are relatively rare in nature, they can be found in acacia, in flowers and in edible plants such as beets," Dr. Poltork said. "So we used these pigments to make other fruits and vegetables anew and to inject them with important nutritional values."

There is some controversy surrounding genetically modified produce, but Professor Aharoni believes that such developments will become more and more dominant and will ultimately allow for people to consume less food while receiving higher nutritional value per fruit or vegetable.

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