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University of Iowa Researchers Discover Muscle-Saving Compound in Tomatoes

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - You've probably heard of people trying to compare apples and oranges at some point. But scientists at the University of Iowa are now comparing apples - their peels to be exact - and tomatoes, when it comes to the muscle-building compounds inside them.

"We discovered that a chemical called tomatidine could potentially inhibit muscle atrophy," said Dr. Chris Adams, associate professor in the university's Department of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Adams said tomatidine, found in higher concentrations in green tomatoes than red ones, works like another compound already found in apple peels, fighting muscle wasting and weakness.

"We're really thinking that compounds such as tomatidine from tomatoes and ursolic acid from apples could be combined into science-based nutrition products for people," Adams explained.

Adams said this research is targeting muscle atrophy brought on by age and long bouts of inactivity.

"When people are in the hospital or when people have to wear a cast on their leg or arm, sometimes that causes muscle atrophy," Adams explained. "It makes people weak and impairs their quality of life and activities."

Adams said the University has founded a biotech company called Emmyon to speed up research and safety testing.

"At this point, we don't know how many green tomatoes a person would have to eat to get enough tomatidine," Adams told us.

In the meantime, he said it's probably not a bad thing to eat more of these muscle-saving superfoods.

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