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Probiotic foods ‘help to lower blood pressure’

Eating probiotic foods such as yogurt and cheese regularly can lead to improvements in blood pressure levels, a study has found.

The meta-analysis – published in the journal Hypertension – included nine randomised controlled trials that involved a total of 543 people with normal or elevated blood pressures at the outset, and lasted between three and nine weeks.

The probiotic-containing foods tested included milk, yogurt, sour milk, other drinks, cheese and supplements.

Overall, participants who consumed the probiotic food daily had an average 3.6mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and 2.4mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure over the course of the studies, compared with the participants in the placebo groups.

The researchers said the effects were limited to those probiotic foods that came from fermented dairy products, and mainly benefited people whose blood pressure was at least 130/85mmHg to start with.

Lead author of the study Dr Jing Sun, a senior lecturer at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, said: ‘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. This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.’

She added: ‘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.’

Hypertension 2014; available online 22 July