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Asparagus, For Rats, Can Lower Blood Pressure

Update Date: Jun 08, 2013 01:07 PM EDT

With the arrival of springtime come different types of seasonal foods. One of the spring produces that is particularly fresh during this time of the year is asparagus, the long and lean green vegetable that less commonly comes in white and purple. Like most vegetables, asparagus has been found to be very healthy since it has very little calories and is low in sodium. Despite already knowing some of the health benefits of this vegetable, researchers have continued to search for more using mouse models. Now, new research suggests that asparagus could be the next wonder food, for rats that is.

According to researchers from the Kagawa Nutrition University located in Japan, rats that were given asparagus as a part of their daily diet became healthier. For 10 weeks, some rats with high blood pressure were given a diet that was five percent asparagus, while other rats acted as the control group and were not given any asparagus at all. The researchers found that the asparagus-fed group had lowered blood pressure. Not only did the asparagus help rats with their high blood pressure health issue, the rats' kidneys appeared to be healthier as well. The researchers found that the rats on the asparagus diet had less protein in their urine, which indicates that their kidneys are performing better.

On top of the fact that the asparagus-fed group experienced these two health benefits, the rats also had less ACE activity. ACE is known as the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which is the target for human drugs that aim to treat hypertension. Human drugs lower the ACE activity in order to maintain hypertension. This decrease in ACE activity was an interesting find for the researchers who believe that the compound known as 2-hydroxynicotianamine found in asparagus could be responsible. Although there is not much research on this compound, the researchers believe that it acts as an ACE inhibitor. 2-hydroxynicotianamine is also found in buckwheat sprouts, buckwheat leaves and buckwheat.

The researchers did not conclude whether or not this compound would have the same effects in humans. But, if more research is done, asparagus could be the answer for people suffering from hypertension.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

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