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Scientists offered new evidence on Tuesday that a component of egg whites, already popular as a substitute for whole eggs among health-conscious consumers concerned about cholesterol in the yolk, may have another beneficial effect in reducing blood pressure.
Their study was part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, which continues in New Orleans through Thursday.
"Our research suggests that there may be another reason to call it 'the incredible, edible egg,'" said study leader Zhipeng Yu of China's Jilin University.
"We have evidence from the laboratory that a substance in egg white - it's a peptide, one of the building blocks of proteins - reduces blood pressure about as much as a low dose of Captopril, a high-blood-pressure drug," he said.
Yu and colleagues used a peptide called RVPSL and found that it has a powerful ability to inhibit or block the action of ACE, a substance produced in the body that raises blood pressure.
Experiments with rats showed RVPSL did not have apparent toxic effects and lowered blood pressure by amounts comparable to low doses of Captopril.
Yu believes that egg white peptides, either in eggs or as a supplement, could become useful as an adjunct to high-blood-pressure medication.
For now, he said, people with high blood pressure should consult their health care provider before making any changes. And he noted that findings about egg white and high blood pressure add to the emerging nutritional image of eggs.
Once regarded as a food to avoid in a healthy diet, studies in recent years have concluded that many people can eat eggs without raising their blood cholesterol levels, benefiting from an inexpensive food low in calories and rich in protein, vitamins and other nutrients.