Can Egg Whites Lower Blood Pressure?

By Doug Cook

What if yet another common everyday food could help to lower blood pressure? This is a question that scientists investigated and the initial findings are intriguing. High blood pressure, defined as consistently more than 140/90 mm Hg, is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is the number one risk factor for stroke, affecting an estimated 17.1 percent of all Canadians over the age of 12. High blood pressure affects more than 30 percent of those over the age of 55.

The Story

Presenting at the 245th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, study leader Zhipeng Yu, PhD gave evidence from a study showing that a peptide, or smaller protein molecule, in egg whites reduced blood pressure as effectively as a low dose of a common blood pressure medication Catopril; a drug from a class of angiotensin-coverting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

Read more about managing blood pressure

The Study

Taking a closer look at the study, a peptide found in egg white called RVPSL, was given to a group of rats that are bred to develop high blood pressure; serving as a high blood pressure model for humans. Of note is the fact that preparation of the peptide which, involved heating the egg white to almost 93 C or 200 F, a temperature that is less than what is needed to cook eggs, didn’t destroy the peptide’s properties. Cooking changes the chemical structure of protein, so there was concern that the peptide, which is found abundantly in raw egg whites, might be altered. This study shows that that egg white protein retains its blood pressure lowering properties when eggs are cooked using traditional cooking methods.

The Results

Blood pressure was reduced in rats who received the RVPSL peptide and 50mg worth was as effective as a low 10 mg dose of Captopril. The evidence was so compelling that the next step is to move ahead with human research to see what kind of impact egg white protein will have on reducing blood pressure. One of the pressing research questions is whether or not cooked egg whites, or a standardized supplement of the peptide, can be used alone, or with medication as a way to manage high blood pressure.

The Bottom Line

While it’s too early to say for sure that eating cooked egg whites will have a meaningful impact on high blood pressure in humans, the evidence is compelling. Including eggs as part of a dietary approach to lowering blood pressuring which includes reducing sodium, increasing potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and D, omega-3 fats and eating more nitrate-rich foods like spinach, celery, beets, spinach, radish, and dark lettuce greens, and my favourite, dark chocolate, may prove to be beneficial.

Read more about leafy green vegetables

References

Heart and Stroke Foundation – What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure 2010 – Statistics Canada

High blood pressure may be lowered by egg white protein

Photo Credit: Zayada


By Doug Cook| September 13, 2013
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  EatFood and Drink

About the Author

Doug Cook

Doug Cook

Doug Cook, RD MHSc is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator who uses a holistic and science-based approach to his practice. www.dougcookrd.com.


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