London: British researchers claim to have developed new "super tomatoes" fortified with minerals which can improve your immune system and help prevent cancer.
The new varieties, which have hit shelves across the UK, have been enriched with selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant which the researchers believe could not only boost the immune system but also help prevent cancer.
The mineral, found naturally in foods such as Brazil nuts, shellfish and liver, is also important for the thyroid gland, which determines how quickly the body uses energy and
also produces proteins, the Daily Mail reported.
Food scientists for Marks & Spencer, the company which has developed the new variety, turned their attention to the mineral because it is lacking in UK diets.
Low concentrations in farm soil means little of the mineral finds its way into home-grown foods. There is evidence that a deficiency may lead to heart disease and, while it does not tend to directly cause illnesses, it can make the body more likely to catch infections.
Dr Carina Norris, of the Nutrition Society, said the tomatoes were a great way to get the nutrient into our diets.
"Selenium plays an important role in supporting the immune system, and it?s thought that getting adequate selenium reduces our risk of cancer," she said.
"But many people in the UK don`t get enough from their diets -- the latest data suggests the average person consumes well below the target of 60mg for women and 75 for men.
"So to get a `difficult` nutrient like selenium into a food that more or less everyone eats -- such as tomatoes --has to be a good thing."
The new tomato follows Marks & Spencer`s Vitamin D milk, yoghurts and juice it has developed to help tackle health problems.