Can Eating Probiotic Yogurt Help Lower Your High Blood Pressure?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Probiotics have been making headlines over the past few years in the grocery aisles for helping aid people in their digestion. Essentially, probiotics are organisms like bacteria and yeast that are believed to improve intestinal function. WebMD notes that while probiotics are still being studied, they are believed to be beneficial for treating many conditions, including: childhood diarrhea, ulcerative colitic, necrotizing enterocolitis, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, vaginitis, Crohn’s disease, eczema, and preventing pouchitis.

Now, a new study (published Monday in the journal Hypertension) has found another added benefit of probiotics — it may reduce high blood pressure. The researchers reviewed the findings of nine separate studies to find that consuming probiotics helped lower the systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg.

“The studies looking at probiotics and blood pressure tend to be small,” said lead researcher Jing Sun, PhD, in a press release. “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.”

Sun added: “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. This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”

The researchers found the following, as reported by the American Heart Association:

  • Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.
  • The positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated.
  • Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
  • Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure. CFU is the amount of bacteria or the dose of probiotics in a product.
  • Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria.

Having high blood pressure — also known as hypertension – is considered to be a serious cardiovascular condition. Having high blood pressure means your blood is pushing too hard against your artery wall when it circulates throughout your body, and this, in turn, can pose a threat to your arteries. Associated with heart attacks and strokes, hypertension affects more than 30 percent of American adults.

“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,” said Sun, a senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Speaking of blood pressure, researchers from the University of California–Irvine recently found an unexpected benefit of high blood pressure: a lower risk of dementia. According to researchers, their study found that individuals with the highest readings had the lowest likelihood of acquiring the disease.

“In our study, high blood pressure is not a risk factor for dementia in the oldest old, but just the opposite,” said Maria Corrada, an associate adjunct professor in the department of neurology, to Healthday.

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