Japanese Plum Juice May Prevent High Blood Pressure

In a mouse study, researchers discovered that Japanese Plum or "Ume" juice, a supplement used in Japan for centuries, may offer significant cardiovascular benefits.

Since the 18th century, people in Japan have used the juice of the Japanese Plum to promote health. However, because raw Japanese Plum fruit contains toxins, it's usually processed into juice that's safe to consume. This fruit juice concentrate, called bainiku-ekisu, is thought to prevent heart disease.

Though studies are limited, some evidence has emerged that supports these claims.

For example, research using smooth muscle cells in blood vessels has shown that plum juice positively impacts a circulatory hormone associated with high blood pressure called angiotensin II.

Recently, a new study published in Hypertension Research found more evidence that bainiku-ekisu may offer cardiovascular and anti-hypertensive health benefits.

To further investigate the potential benefits Japanese Plum juice may have on blood pressure, researchers from Japan gave mice angiotensin II to induce hypertension. Then the rodents were given either plain water or water infused with bainiku-ekisu.

After two weeks, the scientists examined the mice and found that rodents given bainiku-ekisu did not develop high blood pressure. What's more, when the team conducted tissue analysis on these mice, they found that the juice protected the vascular structure against the effects of angiotensin II.

For example, the rodent's aortas showed minimal growth and enlargement, while mice given plain water had significant aortic hypertrophy.

In addition, the juice concentrate appeared to reduce the infiltration of inflammation-inducing immune cells associated with hypertension.

The researchers also found that bainiku-ekisu prevented the cellular shift from aerobic metabolism to glycolysis associated with inflammation, vascular system stiffness, and cardiovascular disease development.

However, because the investigation used mice and not humans, more research is needed to determine if people would benefit from bainiku-ekisu. Nonetheless, the team plans to investigate these findings further and identify the specific compounds in Japanese Plum juice responsible for the beneficial cardiovascular effects observed in rodents.

In a press release, senior investigator Satoru Eguchi, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, explains, "There may be two or three compounds working together, which could explain why the infused juice concentrate of Ume is so popular as a health supplement. Multiple compounds working together would produce additive or synergistic effects that might be lost in a pharmaceutical preparation."

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