The reason blood pressure medications are so popular is that they force blood pressure close to or down to a healthy level.
The bad news: they come with a litany of side effects, most often so serious that they outweigh the benefit of the drugs.
The good news: new research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reveals a vegetable that works exactly like the most effective blood pressure medications, without the side effects.
The British and Irish researchers analyzed 100 previously conducted studies on the heart benefits of seaweed.
Their survey unearthed the fact that many sea vegetables are low in calories and fat (good for weight loss), high in minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, and iodine, and extremely high in protein (up to 47 percent of their weight) and that they contain plenty of proteins called bioactive peptides, which hold extraordinary heart health benefits.
They found that these bioactive peptides had effects similar to ACE inhibitor drugs, which are commonly prescribed to lower blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors inhibit your body’s production of angiotensin II, a chemical that constricts blood vessels and thereby elevates blood pressure. If you have less angiotensin II, your blood vessels can relax, dilate, and allow blood to flow through them at lower pressure.
The only problem? They can also cause headaches, dizziness, inflammation, fatigue, nausea, renal failure, and a build-up of potassium that can cause cardiac dysfunction.
Sea vegetables are the first natural substances discovered that can have the same health effects without these harmful side effects.
At this stage, most people get their bioactive peptides from milk, where they appear in much smaller amounts than in seaweed. Manufacturers of packaged soups and sauces also often include them in their products, but these products contain so many other, harmful ingredients that it probably ruins the potential benefit.
Your local Asian supermarket should be a treasure trove of healthy sea vegetables. Here is a sample of what you can expect:
· Nori are the dried, often toasted, sheets in which your sushi is wrapped. You can cut the sheets in strips to eat as noodles or add to a stir-fry.
· Agar is available in bars, flakes, and powder. It is handy as a sauce thickener or a vegan substitute for the gelatin found in pie fillings and jams.
· Kelp is the common brown seaweed found on most beaches. It is normally sold in powder form to use as a salt substitute or seasoning.
· Hijiki looks like spaghetti and is sold in dehydrated form. Soak it for 20 minutes, and then toss it in stews and stir-fries. Limit your consumption to once a week, as it does contain some arsenic.
· Dulse can be bought as a dry powder, but the dried leaves need only five minutes of cooking and are great in salads and stews. When lightly pan-fried, it becomes crispy like potato chips.
· Arame turns black when it is dried, the form in which it is usually sold. Soak for 10 minutes before adding it to cooking dishes.
· Kombu, sold as dried strips, is a good seasoning agent in almost any dish. Soak for 15 minutes before cooking for about 40 minutes more.
Most of these double in size when they cook, so they are good value for money.