Anyone concerned about blood pressure and heart health will find the recent article published in The American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry extremely exciting.

After analyzing over 100 scientific studies, researchers found that certain proteins in seaweed actually rival both dairy protein and hypertension medication in their ability to support heart health.

According to Maria Hayes, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Eimear Gallagher who collected and compared extensive data in their review, sea vegetables can do much more for Western people than just provide a natural vegan source of protein.
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"Seaweeds are a rich but neglected alternative source," the research team believes. Due to their abundant content of heart-healthy bioactive peptides, they naturally mimic ACE inhibitor activity and actively work to help lower blood pressure. Naturally-occurring substances possessing ACE inhibiting properties have also been found in cultured milk and bioactive whey.

The researchers also note increased interest in using bioactive peptides, now obtained mainly from milk and whey products, as ingredients in functional foods. These foods not only provide nutrition, but have a medicine-like effect in treating or preventing certain diseases.

Synthetic drugs containing bioactive peptides are are currently prescribed against hypertension; however these drugs can be quite damaging to health and at times even completely ineffective. ACE inhibitor drugs are known to have a high toxicity and cause unwanted side effects (such as ry cough and angioedema), plus are not recommended during pregnancy.

Consequently, a mission to find natural and safe sources of bioactive peptides has led the scientific community to turn to sea vegetables as plentiful resource of beneficial substances.

"The variety of macroalgae species, the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalgae a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds. More efforts are direly needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products," Hayes claims.
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