Rome, Feb 25 (Adnkronos Health) – A rocket salad a day lowers blood pressure and protects blood vessels from aging. To produce this beneficial effect – explains the Italian Society of Pharmacology (Sif) – is erucine, an active ingredient contained in rocket (but also in broccoli and cabbage, which together with rocket belong to the Brassicaceae or cruciferous family) which is a prodrug capable of releasing hydrogen sulphide, a gas with the characteristic smell of rotten eggs, the same that is found in some thermal springs and that the Romans already exploited for its beneficial properties.
The body is able to produce hydrogen sulphide autonomously, but in some pathological situations, such as arterial hypertension, this substance is deficient and it is therefore necessary to take it from external sources. In particular, erucine has a double effect on the cardiovascular system: on the one hand it induces the dilation of blood vessels by lowering blood pressure, on the other it has antioxidant properties, thus protecting the blood vessel wall from the oxidative phenomena of aging.
“We have been studying erucine for more than 10 years – underlines Alma Martelli, associate professor of Pharmacology at the Pharmacy Department of the University of Pisa and member of the Italian Society of Pharmacology – Currently, thanks to the collaboration with the Department of Internal Medicine of the University of Pisa, we are studying the effects of erucine on human vessels of obese patients, taken during bariatric surgery. After this phase we will move on to clinical trials, with administration of erucine to patients. The data obtained so far are very promising, but there is still a lack of data on a significant number of patients “.
In the meantime – continue the pharmacologists – a Chinese and an Australian study have verified the general cardiovascular parameters on patients who used to eat rocket, broccoli or cabbage, highlighting a significant reduction in deaths from cardiovascular causes. Compared to cabbage and broccoli, rocket has an advantage: since it is eaten raw, it preserves the active ingredient intact from deterioration resulting from cooking, something that cabbage and broccoli inevitably encounter, since they are vegetables that are eaten cooked.
Today, erucine can be used as a nutraceutical by supplementing the diet with a bowl of rocket a day. Tomorrow we will have erucine-based food supplements available and this will have several advantages for patients: first of all the control over the exact amount of active ingredient necessary to induce the desired effect, i.e. lowering blood pressure, then the convenience of taking and the consequent improvement in patient compliance.
“Not for all those who suffer from hypertension, however, it is recommended to take rocket – specifies Martelli – be careful if you take warfarin (Coumadin *) or suffer from thyroid problems”.