THURSDAY, Oct. 16, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Chicken soup, which has been dubbed Grandma's penicillin for its purported cold-fighting abilities, may also help to lower high blood pressure, a new study suggests.
Japanese researchers have found that collagen proteins found in chicken may actually lower blood pressure. These collagens appear to act like the blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors.
One caveat, though: it's the chicken, not the rest of the stuff in the soup, that may be medicinal.
"As this study suggests, some collagen in chicken may lower blood pressure," said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. "But be careful. The salt we put on our chicken and in our chicken soup may offset or even reverse this potential benefit."
That may be why Ai Saiga and colleagues at the Nippon Meat Packers Inc.'s Research and Development Center are looking to find ways to use chicken collagen as a blood pressure medication. Their report will be published in the Oct. 22 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Previous studies had found that chicken breast meat contained only small amounts of collagen -- too little to be used to develop food and medications for high blood pressure. But chicken legs and feet contain much more collagen, the researchers said.
For the new study, the researchers took collagen from chicken legs and tested it to see if it had the same properties as ACE inhibitors. They found that four proteins in the meat had collagen that acted like the drug.
When they gave these proteins to rats that replicated a human model of high blood pressure, the proteins caused a significant decrease in blood pressure, the researchers found.
"Chicken collagen hydrolysate prepared in this study was composed of foods that can be easily incorporated into the daily diet," the researchers wrote. "By incorporating these foods into meals, normalization of blood pressure will be achieved without compromising the quality of life of those who need such foods."
To learn more about high blood pressure, visit the American Heart Association.