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Probiotic Consumption Improves Blood Pressure Readings

Update Date: Jul 21, 2014 06:55 PM EDT

Probiotic supplements could lower the risk of hypertension, according to a new study.

Previous studies show that priobiotics, or "healthy" gut bacteria commonly found in yogurt and dietary supplements, provide many health benefits.

"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," lead researcher Jing Sun, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, said in a news release. "This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements."

After analyzing data from nine previous studies, which involved 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure, researchers found that regular "healthy bacteria" consumption lowered systolic blood pressure by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn't take probiotics.

Researchers also found that people whose blood pressure was equal or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated, benefitted the most from probiotic consumption.

The study also found that needed to consume probiotics for more than eight weeks to reap it's blood pressure-lowering benefits, and that supplements with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with single bacteria.

"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," she added. "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."

The findings are published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

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