Queensland, Australia—Most consumers know that probiotics support digestive health, and now there are even reasons to consume these beneficial bacteria. New research published in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension, suggests that incorporating probiotics regularly into your diet may help improve blood pressure.

Researchers analyzed data from nine previous studies, which in included a total of 543 adult participants who have normal and elevated blood pressure levels. They have found that the consumption of probiotics reduced systolic blood pressure by  an average of 3.56 mm of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 2.38 mm Hg. Probiotics provided a positive effect on those whose blood pressure was greater than or equal to 130/85, which is elevated on a diastolic blood pressure. The studies have also suggested that one needs to consume probiotics for extended periods of time to achieve benefits for blood pressure; the consumption of probiotics for less than eight weeks did not lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure. The amount of colony-forming units (CFUs)  also plays a role in the benefits, as a daily bacteria volume of at least 1011colony-forming units was suggested. Also, the probiotics that had multiple bacteria rather than those that had only a single bacteria, had much lower blood pressure.

“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,” says Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland Australia. 

Because these probiotic and blood pressure studies are small, further studies may be needed until healthcare providers can recommend probiotics for high blood pressure prevention and control.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine,September 2014 (online July 28, 2014)