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Seaweeds, a natural source of bioactive peptides, shown to improve heart health

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by: Michelle Bosmier
Tags: seaweed, heart health, health news

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(NewsTarget) The American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently published an interesting article in which researchers analyze over 100 scientific studies to conclude that proteins found in seaweed rival both milk protein and hypertension medication in their ability to support heart health.

The term 'seaweed' is used to describe several types of macroalgae, such as red algae, green algae and brown algae. They are usually appreciated in Hawaiian and Japanese cuisine due to their high nutrient content and exotic flavor. For the Inuit people, seaweed is one of the few green vegetable food sources available, and it is thus a staple in their diet.

According to Maria Hayes and her colleagues, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Eimear Gallagher, who have collected and compared precious data in their review, macroalgae can do more for Western people than just provide a natural, vegan source of protein.

"Seaweeds are a rich but neglected alternative source," the research team believes. Due to their abundant content of heart-healthy bioactive peptides, they can replace ACE inhibitor medication and actively work to lower blood pressure. Naturally occurring substances that have ACE inhibiting properties have been found in cultured milk, although the role of milk in lowering blood pressure is still under dispute.

Just how do these powerful ingredients in seaweed work? Bioactive peptides are amino acid sequences that make the primary structure of natural proteins. They remain inactive as long as they are confined within the structure of the parent protein, and they can only be released if the protein is acted upon by a specific enzyme. Once they are released, they can be readily used by the human body, and they have a variety of therapeutic qualities, including in the management of chronic heart disease.

Synthetic drugs containing bioactive peptides are currently prescribed against hypertension; however, these drugs can be quite damaging to health and, on many occasions, completely ineffective. ACE inhibitor drugs are known to have a high toxicity and to cause unwanted aftereffects (such as dry cough and angioedema) and are not recommended during pregnancy. Consequently, an increased interest in finding natural and safe sources of bioactive peptides has enabled the scientific community to turn to algae as a plentiful resource of beneficial substances. "The variety of macroalgae species and the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalgae a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds, and more efforts are needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products", Hayes claims.

In support of an ancient Hippocratic belief, this study suggests that food can not only provide nutrition, but that it can also have a medicinal effect on the body, assisting with the treatment and prevention of heart disease. As opposed to prescription medication, bioactive peptides from natural sources have no contraindications, pose no health risks, and can be consumed in any quantity.



About the author

Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created RawFoodHealthWatch.com, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.

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