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According to food scientists at Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland, a common and edible seaweed could be used to help reduce blood pressure.
Teagasc’s NutraMara marine research group has been trying to find bioactive components for use in functional foods; foods which are fortified with other ingredients and are looking specifically at marine sources.
They have already found that some seaweed proteins appear to have health benefits and whole seaweeds have been added to foods such as sausages, cheese, pizza bases and frozen-meat products, with seaweed proteins currently being assessed in bread products.
The scientists also believe that protein-rich red seaweeds such as Palmaria palmate (commonly known as dulse) and Porphyra species (commonly known as sleabhac or laver) may potentially be used in the development of low-cost, highly nutritive diets and could compete with current protein crop sources such as soya beans.
Members of the research group have also recently found a protein in dulse that inhibits the action of renin which is known to raise blood pressure. Dulse also contains valuable amino acids, the building blocks of peptides and proteins, and is known to be very rich in blood pressure-friendly mineral potassium.
Bioactive peptides are food-derived peptides that can exert a beneficial, physiological health effect. Some proteins and peptides from food sources such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish are thought to be bioactive, capable of reducing high blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease.
The research scientists at Teagasc believe they have uncovered another one in dulse .