andrew schneider investigates

April 2, 2009

Japanese scientists have figured out that chicken soup may be the secret to controlling high blood pressure.

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Good food,Random observations — Andrew Schneider @ 08:23

Of course we all know that chicken soup – “Grandma’s Penicillin” – is good for curing much of what ails you. Some of us have passed the secret of this liquid medical wonder on for generations without really knowing from where its medicinal value comes.

My great grandmother would add several cloves of garlic to boost the healing power of her deep yellow brew.

Over the years, the chicken soup has been proven to have antibacterial and antiviral properties and boosts the immune system. In the 1990s, a physician from the University of Nebraska brought his wife’s chicken soup into the laboratory, tested it with white blood cells and showed that there were naturally occurring chemicals which could clear stuffy nose by stopping inflammation of the cells in the nasal passages.

In today’s edition of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Japanese scientists document more important benefits.

Chicken soup with matzo ball from New York City;s 2nd Ave. Deli     photo by A.Schneider

Chicken soup with matzo ball from New York City;s 2nd Ave. Deli photo by A.Schneider

Dr. Ai Saiga and his colleagues report that the popular home remedy for the common cold may have a new role in fighting high blood pressure.

They found that the key ingredient might be the chicken’s legs and feet. The journal confirms what those of us who watched our grandmothers cook already new. The yellow feet were a key ingredient for flavor, but today, in the U.S., they are often discarded as waste. But elsewhere, cooks wouldn’t consider cooking a chicken soup without adding the feet as key ingredients.

In their testing, Saiga and his team extracted collagen from chicken legs and tested its ability to act as an ACE inhibitor – a vasodilator used in the treatment of hypertension and heart failure by causing the arteries to widen.

According to the journal, the scientists identified four different proteins in the collagen mixture with high ACE-inhibitory activity. And, when given to rats used to model human high blood pressure, the proteins produced a significant and prolonged decrease in blood pressure.

The Japanese team did not evaluate whether the addition of matzo balls increased the soup’s therapeutic value. However, since chicken soup with matzo balls is a staple served at the Jewish holiday of Passover (which begins April 8) home scientists may have the opportunity to do their own testing – or is that tasting?

Here’s a link to the journal article.

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