Protein taken from yellow peas may help reduce blood pressure and prevent chronic kidney disease, a Canadian study said on Sunday.
Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said they purified a mixture of small protein called pea protein hydrolysate from the yellow pea and fed small daily doses of the protein mixture to laboratory rats with chronic kidney disease.
The findings were presented on Sunday at the American Chemical Society's 237th national meeting in Salt Lake City in the United States.
At the end of the eight-week-long study period, the protein-fedrats with kidney disease showed a 20-percent drop in blood pressure compared with diseased rats on a normal diet, the researchers said.
"This is significant because a majority of chronic kidney disease patients actually die from cardiovascular complications that arise from the high blood pressure associated with kidney malfunction," said the study's leading author Rotimi Aluko, a food chemist at the University of Manitoba.
In both rats and humans with chronic kidney disease, urine output is severely reduced and the kidneys are unable to properly remove dangerous toxins. The researchers showed that their pea extract caused a 30-percent boost in urine production in the diseased rats, bringing their urine to within normal levels.
Aluko noted that the yellow peas must be processed with special enzymes as eating the peas alone will not produce the desired health benefits.
The researchers said they planned to test the protein extract in humans next year and if successful, a pea-based therapy may hit the market in two to three years.