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Vegetable Amino Acid Lowers Blood Pressure
Date:7/8/2009

Get plenty of it in your diet, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they have discovered that one of the most common amino acids in vegetable protein seems to lower blood pressure.

Analysis of data from an international diet study shows that a 4.72 percent higher intake of glutamic acid as a portion of total dietary protein correlates with a 1.5- to 3-point reduction in average systolic blood pressure (the higher of the two blood pressure readings, when the heart beats) and a 1- to 1.6-point lower diastolic pressure (the lower reading, when the heart rests between beats). The report appears online July 6 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Circulation.

The point difference might not sound like much, but high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, and a reduction on that scale could cut stroke death rates by 6 percent and coronary heart disease deaths by 4 percent, said study author Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, professor emeritus of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.

However, the worry is that people could take the finding as a reason to pop glutamic acid pills rather than making vegetables a larger part of their diet, Stamler said.

"We make a clear statement that there are no data on supplements of glutamic acid to tell us anything one way or another about their value," Stamler said.

Protein, animal and vegetable, consists of chains of amino acids. Glutamic acid is the most common of those amino acids, accounting for 23 percent of vegetable protein and 18 percent of meat protein.

The relationship between higher glutamic acid intake and lower blood pressure seen in the study of 4,680 people in China, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom was not unexpected, said Ian J. Brown, a research associa
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