Yogurt is a convenient little snack that builds strong bones and promotes healthy digestion. And according to new research, it just might lower your blood pressure too.
The American Heart Association journal "Hypertension" recently published a study that examined the link between probiotics and blood pressure. The meta-analysis included data from nine different studies, involving a total of 543 adults with normal or elevated blood pressure.
Participants who consumed probiotics lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average of 3.6-mm-Hg and lowered their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of 2.4-mm-Hg, compared to participants that did not consume probiotics. The greatest benefit was seen among patients with elevated blood pressure.
Study authors indicated that duration of probiotic consumption was crucial. Participants who consumed probiotics for less than two months did not lower their blood pressure. Also, probiotics with multiple forms of bacteria were more successful in reducing blood pressure readings than probiotics with a single form of bacteria (Source: HealthDay).
Although the study results did not establish a direct cause-effect relationship between probiotics and blood pressure readings, study author Jing Sun of Griffith University School of Medicine in Queensland, Australia, believes the connection lies in the way probiotics improve your overall health. Prior studies have indicated that probiotics lower cholesterol, improve insulin resistance and promote hormonal balance, all of which can improve blood pressure readings.
Despite the fact that study participants only lowered their blood pressure readings by a few points, study authors note that even a small drop can greatly improve your health. Improved blood pressure readings, such as those in the study, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack by up to 22 percent (Source: Forbes).
While it’s too soon to say whether probiotics will become part of a comprehensive treatment plan for high blood pressure, it certainly can’t hurt to add probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso soup and soft fermented cheeses are excellent sources of the “good” bacteria that can improve your health and boost immunity. Probiotic supplements are also available but should be discussed with your doctor first.