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Probiotics in Dairy Products Help Lower Blood Pressure

Jul 22, 2014 06:35 AM EDT

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Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, can help lower blood pressure, a new study states.

The study, by researchers at the Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia, shows that probiotics aren't just good for maintaining gut health, but also improve blood pressure levels.

"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," said Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author from the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. "This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements."

The study was based on data from nine high-quality studies that looked at the link between probiotic intake and blood pressure. The studies included a total of 543 adults with normal and high 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," Sun said in a news release.

Researchers found that consuming probiotics was linked to a lower systolic blood pressure by 3.56 millimeters of mercury MmHg. Systolic blood pressure is the top number on a blood pressure reading. The lower number or diastolic blood pressure reduced by an average of 2.38 percent when compared to people who didn't use probiotics.

The team found that the benefits of probiotics were greater in people with elevated blood pressure. Also, consuming probiotics with different types of bacteria is better than probiotics with single bacterial strains, researchers said.

The reduction in blood pressure isn't huge. However, other research has shown that even a small drop in hypertension can decrease risk of stroke and heart problems by 22 percent, Forbes reported.

Still, it is a good idea to ask a physician before using any probiotic supplements.

Recently, researchers from Spain had found that probiotics might be helpful in reducing fat levels in the livers of test rats.

The study is published in the journal Hypertension.  

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