July 21/London/Daily Mail -- In what will be welcome news to those intolerant to dairy, scientists have found a new source of their heart-boosting ingredients -- seaweed.

Scientists found that the salty algae is full of “bioactive peptides” which help to reduce blood pressure and work in similar way to ACE inhibitor drugs.

Until now, the only known source of these helpful protein fragments was in milk products.

The team from Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ireland, reviewed almost 100 scientific studies into seaweed and found it had a potent medicinal effect. They noted that seaweed has been consumed for centuries in East Asian countries, but it was a neglected nutrient source in the West.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they said, “The variety of macroalga species and the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalga species a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds.

“More efforts are needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products.”

Lead author Dr. Maria Hayes and colleagues said the U.S. had already started to add marine peptides to “functional foods” such as drinks and soups. They suggest bread could also be fortified

It will be welcome news for those suffering with hypertension, which is one of the most major but controllable risk factors in heart disease.

From the July 21, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.