GM tomatoes and helpful bacteria claimed to lower cholesterol


November 7, 2012

Genetically-modified tomatoes and a type of probiotic bacteria have both been claimed to help lower levels of "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream (Photo: Shutterstock)

Genetically-modified tomatoes and a type of probiotic bacteria have both been claimed to help lower levels of "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Atherosclerosis, more commonly known as hardening of the arteries, can have very serious consequences such as heart attacks and strokes. While there are medications that remove some of the offending plaque from the inside of the affected arteries, not everyone wants to take drugs unless absolutely necessary. Lifestyle improvements can certainly help, but soon two other options may be available – probiotics and genetically-engineered tomatoes.

The tomatoes, created by researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, were engineered to produce a peptide (an amino acid compound) known as 6F. That peptide mimics the plaque-reducing actions of ApoA-1, which is the main protein in HDL (high density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol).

After being freeze dried and ground up, the tomatoes were fed to a group of mice that lacked the ability to remove LDL (low density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) from their bloodstream. This made them particularly susceptible to atherosclerosis, a situation that certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that they were otherwise on a high-fat, high-calorie Western-style diet.

Although the tomatoes made up only 2.2 percent of that diet, that was apparently enough to significantly reduce the amount of atherosclerotic plaque in the animals’ arteries. The mice also showed lower levels of arterial inflammation, higher levels of HDL, more paraoxonase activity (paraoxonase is an antioxidant associated with a lower risk of heart disease), and a decrease in lysophosphatidic acid, a substance that has been shown to accelerate plaque build-up.

The 6F is reportedly much more effective than the ApoA-1 that it imitates, and can be administered simply by eating the tomatoes – it doesn’t need to be isolated or purified.

Capsules containing Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 bacteria

Meanwhile, scientists at Montreal’s McGill University have instead been looking at using a probiotic (a bacteria that is helpful to its host) for much the same purpose. They were following up on previous research, which suggested that a formulation of Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 bacteria could lower LDL levels.

In the new study, approximately half of a group of 127 test subjects were given two doses of L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day, for nine weeks. The rest of the subjects were given a placebo. When tested, the people receiving the probiotic were found to have LDL levels 11.6 percent lower than the placebo group.

There was also a 6.3 percent reduction in their cholesterol esters – these are cholesterol molecules that attach to fatty acids, the combination of which has been linked to heart disease. Finally, the subjects’ total cholesterol levels dropped by 9.1 percent, although their HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels remained unchanged.

At just 200 milligrams a day, the probiotic was said to be effective at doses far lower than are currently required for other cholesterol-lowering medications. Pharmaceutical company Micropharma owns the intellectual property rights to the L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 formulation, and plans to bring it to the U.S. market next year under the name of Cardioviva.

Source: American Heart Association (2)

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Bill Clinton was on cholesterol reducing medication . That is why he suffered a near fatal blockages. Statins cut back the small heart attacks but increase the big one. I hope they actually test the product. The reason conventional milk increases heart and bone disease is because it sets up an inflammatory response that sucks calcium out of the bone and into the circulatory system. Two diseases in one.

Stewart Mitchell

Having a healthy diet and lifestyle has also been proven to reduce plaque build up and it has even reverse the damages that may have occurred due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Yes, I am one of those people that would like scientists to stop messing with mother nature. All we need to survive has already been supplied to us. Why must we always mess with something that has worked for centuries? It's unnatural.

GM's are destroying our ecoculture by destroying the weak plant virus and pest and allowing super virus and pests to evolve. In return harming ourselves.

All I know is that I'm starting my own organic garden; and, I know, any fruits/vegetables given to me from the garden will be more nutritious and safer to eat than their GM counterparts.

I would encourage everyone to to switch to organic, but I wouldn't want to force anything unto anyone. Thus, to each their own.


GM veggies and fruits have been around for decades, with no negative impacts (other than the anti-GM propaganda spread by eco-nuts and their supporters).

For example, look at all the various strains of wheat and rice that have been created by GM and the benefits they offer such as higher yields, disease resistance, and less water and fertilizer required.

Organic foods are just the opposite. They require huge amounts of land, water, and fertilizer to survive, and there is small yields relative to the vast amount of land and water needed to grow organic food.

The same amount of land and water can grow 50% to 100% more GM food compared to organic food.

With over a billion people starving in the world, it is stupid and selfish to grow organic food.

Growing more GM food would feed all those people.

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