London:  Scientists have identified seaweeds, which form an important element of Chinese and Japanese cuisine, as a rich new source of nutrition for the heart which could rival milk products as sources of these so-called "bioactive peptides".

Bioactive peptides, obtained mainly from milk products, not only provide nutrition, but have a drug-like effect in treating or preventing certain diseases, reports the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Maria Hayes, chemist at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ireland and colleagues Ciarán Fitzgerald, Eimear Gallagher and Deniz Tasdemir turned their attention to seaweeds as a source of protein that work like bioactive peptides, according to a Teagasc statement.

Their review of almost 100 scientific studies concluded that some seaweed proteins work just like milk products to reduce blood pressure, like the popular ACE inhibitor drugs.

People in East Asian cultures have eaten seaweeds for centuries.

(Agencies)