Researchers genetically modified rice to replace blood pressure drugs

Imagine eating food that is not only nutritious and filling, but also carefully engineered to address certain health issues. That's the reality detailed in a recent study from the American Chemical Society, which details a type of genetically-modified rice that can potentially be used to lower one's blood pressure. In an effort to bring around this reality, researchers have engineered a type of transgenic rice with blood-pressure-lowering peptides.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Before you get too excited, know this: the rice isn't yet something you can purchase and the study involved rats, not humans. The research paves the way for a future with foods that are engineered to feature specific health-promoting benefits, however.

High blood pressure remains a big public health concern; if left untreated, it can cause a large number of health problems ranging from vision problems to heart disease, kidney disease, and more. The common treatment for this condition is a type of medication called ACE inhibitors — synthetic inhibitors are used in medications, but natural varieties are found in certain foods, too.

Because the natural version of these inhibitors may have fewer side effects than their synthetic counterparts, researchers engineered a type of rice that features nine ACE inhibitor peptides and peptides that relax blood vessels. The plants were found to produce high levels of these compounds.

The study involved feeding lab rats flour made from this rice for five weeks, during which time the rats experienced a drop in blood pressure with no obvious unwanted side effects. The equivalent dose of this rice in a 150lbs human would be only half a teaspoon, according to the study.