Eating probiotics regularly may modestly improve your blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.
"The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels," said Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. "This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements."
Analyzing results of nine high-quality studies examining blood pressure and probiotic consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure, researchers found:
"We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance," Sun said.
"The studies looking at probiotics and blood pressure tend to be small," Sun said. "Moreover, two studies had a short duration of three to four weeks of probiotic consumption, which might have affected the overall results of the analysis.
Additional studies are needed before doctors can confidently recommend probiotics for high blood pressure control and prevention, she said.
Co-authors are Saman Khalesi, M.Sc., Ph.D.; Nicholas Buys, Ph.D.; and Rohan Jayasinghe, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
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