Eating probiotics regularly may help lower blood pressure, according to Australian research findings.
The live bacteria and yeasts usually eaten in yoghurts or taken as food supplements were shown to modestly lower blood pressure when taken for two months or more in a review published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
“It’s too soon to start recommending probiotics for lowering blood pressure”
Researchers examined nine studies involving 543 adults with both normal and raised blood pressure.
The found that consuming probiotics lowered systolic blood pressure − the highest blood pressure reading when the heart beats − by an average 3.56 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
Diastolic blood pressure − the lowest level blood pressure reaches as the heart relaxed between beats − was lowered by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared with adults who didn’t consume probiotics.
Probiotics with multiple bacteria were more effective at lowering blood pressure than those with a single bacteria. The concentration of bacteria in a dose also affected results.
Dr Jing Sun, lead author and senior lecturer at Griffith University in Queensland, said: “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,” she said.
“This includes probiotics in yoghurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements,” she added.
She said further studies were needed before clinicians could confidently recommend probiotics for controlling and preventing high blood pressure.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “While this is an interesting review of the research in this area, it’s too soon to start recommending probiotics for lowering blood pressure.
“With only a handful of studies involving a limited number of participants and conducted for only short periods, we need more research to confirm the findings seen here,” she said.
“Eating less salt, more fruit and vegetables and being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight are all tried and tested ways to keep blood pressure healthy,” she added.