Blood pressure could be lowered by a form of algae, according to a new study.
Superfood spirulina (arthrospira platensis), technically a bacteria, was found to contain a protein that helps arteries to ‘relax’ by researchers at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Pozzilli, Italy.
The green food source contains potassium, iron, magnesium and protein, alongside a host of other minerals. Its use has been hailed as helpful in easing a diverse range of conditions from PMS to hayfever.
However, the latest study by Italian scientists suggests it could also help lower blood pressure.
Testing the effects of digesting spirulina on animals and isolated arteries in a laboratory found that it sparked vasodilatory action – a relaxation of the arteries – which in turn lowers blood pressure by increasing blood flow.
Writing in the journal Hypertension, scientists from the study said one particular molecule found in spirulina, named SP6, was believed to have been discovered for the first time.
The SP6 molecule lowered blood pressure in animals being tested and is thought to trigger nitric oxide, a chemical known for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Dr Albino Carrizzo, lead author on the study, said: “We reproduced what happens in the human gut after ingesting the substance.
“This way we have been able to isolate the peptides that would be absorbed by our body.”
Further research is needed but lead scientists behind the study said the research could be vital in finding ‘natural’ treatments for high blood pressure.