News Monday July 25, 2011

Seaweed may help to lower blood pressure, research suggests

A new study has shown that seaweed contains key ingredients that can help lower blood pressure.

According to the research, the ingredients in seaweed, which is a macroalgae, are actually a rich source of bioactive peptides - a type of protein. Bioactive peptides are said to have similar properties to ACE inhibitor medications in terms of affect. ACE inhibitors are often prescribed to people suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a condition that increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Seaweed is not currently a very common food choice in the UK, but it is very popular in countries like Japan, for example in varieties such as Wakame and Nori. The traditional Welsh dish laver bread (bara lawr) is made using the seaweed laver. The nutritional properties of seaweeds like laver are already well-established, but reports such as this offer even further evidence as to its health benefits.

The research was carried out at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Dublin, and involved analysing data from 100 existing studies. The results were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, with the hope that they would “highlight the potential of heart health peptides from macroalgae and to discuss the feasibility of expanding the variety of foods these peptides may be used in.”

Seaweed is also reported to be an aid to weight loss, as it has a very low calorie content, and it may help to prevent the absorption of fat. A study in Japan showed that rats lost 10% of their body weight when they were fed a diet of a particular type of seaweed.

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