Booster Shots

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Why is this soup different from all other soup?

April 8, 2009 |  6:00 am

If you’re preparing for a stressful Passover Seder tonight, here’s some soothing news: Japanese researchers have found that matzo ball soup may reduce your blood pressure.

Matzoh The food scientists found that collagen obtained from chicken legs reduced blood pressure in hypertensive rats within four hours of eating it. After two weeks, the rats showed a significant reduction in blood pressure, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Ai Saiga and her colleagues at Hiroshima University had previously shown that compounds in chicken breast meat helped fight high blood pressure in much the same way as ACE inhibitors, but those compounds are inefficient to make. The new study focused on chicken legs because they contain yellow keratin, which was purified into collagen with hot acid. To eliminate its “unique smell,” the researchers treated it with activated carbon.

With an estimated 1 billion people around the world suffering from high blood pressure – one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke – scientists are eager to identify functional foods like chicken broth. In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has already approved sardines, bonito and sour milk as ACE-inhibitory foods, according to the study. Perhaps "Jewish penicillin" will be next.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo credit: Patrick Downs / L.A. Times