(RxWiki News) People with high blood pressure are often told to lower their sodium intake and to exercise to lower their blood pressure. New research suggests that yogurt may also be a heart-healthy way to reduce high blood pressure.
In a recent study, researchers reviewed previous clinical trials to see if probiotics, the live bacteria contained in yogurt, supplements and fermented milk products, had any effect on heart health.
The studies showed that probiotic consumption may have a modest effect on reducing blood pressure.
The authors suggested that probiotics could be used in addition to other interventions to prevent or lower high blood pressure.
"Seek medical advice on how to lower your blood pressure."
This review of research was conducted by Jing Sun, PhD, of the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, and colleagues.
Probiotics are live bacteria often found in yogurt or supplements. According to the authors of the review, previous trials have found that probiotics can be beneficial to the immune system and prevent diarrhea.
This review examined previous trials on probiotic consumption and blood pressure.
The researchers found nine high-quality studies involving adults that tested probiotic products' effects on various health measures. Each of the studies reported participants' blood pressure levels. In total, the trials involved 543 participants.
Four of the trials used yogurt as the source of probiotics. Two studies used fermented milk, one used supplements, one used probiotic drinks and one used probiotic cheese.
The studies lasted between three and nine weeks.
Most of the studies reported no side effects of probiotic consumption. However, two found that some participants experienced mild gas.
The researchers found that, of the nine studies included, eight reported a reduction in systolic blood pressure among participants who consumed probiotics.
Systolic blood pressure is the top number of a blood pressure reading, which is the pressure on arteries during a heartbeat.
Overall, probiotic consumption led to an average systolic blood pressure reduction of 3.56 points (millimeters of mercury). Normal systolic blood pressure is less than 120.
Diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in arteries between heartbeats, was reduced in eight of the nine studies. However, the reduction in diastolic blood pressure was only statistically significant in two studies.
The researchers noted that such a reduction could lead to a significant drop in the risk of stroke, heart attack or death from heart disease.
The authors suggested that probiotics may be a helpful supplement for interventions to reduce or prevent high blood pressure.
The researchers did not report funding information and did not disclose any conflicts of interest. The review was published July 21 in Hypertension.