Scientists Create Rice That May Fight High Blood Pressure

Scientists have created a new type of rice that may help to lower high blood pressure.

Angiotensin II is a substance that can narrow your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure. Synthetic drugs called ACE inhibitors — where ACE stands for angiotensin converting enzyme — are commonly used to treat high blood pressure by preventing an enzyme in your body from producing angiotensin II.

Natural ACE inhibitors can be found in food like milk, eggs, fish, meat and plants, but extracting enough to create effective medicine is time-consuming and expensive.

However, researchers from China and Japan have now made rice that includes ACE inhibitor genes. New research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that an extract from the new rice reduced high blood pressure in rats.

The study showed that the rats’ blood pressure levels had fallen two hours after the treatment.

The researchers also treated rats with flour made from the rice over five weeks. The rats again had lower blood pressure, and it remained lower one week after the treatment ended.

Current ACE inhibitors can have side effects like a dry cough, headaches and rashes, but the researchers found that the rats showed no side effects from the rice treatment.

The researchers further estimated that if the rice has the same effect on humans, a 68-kilogram adult would only need half a tablespoon, or about 7.5 grams, each day to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

This isn’t the first time rice has been genetically modified to create new health benefits. In 1999, Swiss and German scientists developed Golden Rice, which has a high amount of vitamin A. This is especially useful in developing countries where people struggle to get enough vitamin A from other food, which can lead to vision loss and make them more vulnerable to other ailments.

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