Can Probiotics Lower Blood Pressure?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

As if the health benefits of probiotics weren't already impressive enough, new research suggests they may help to lower blood pressure too.

Probiotics are beneficial organisms that colonize the intestinal tract.

Research shows they may benefit multiple conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, liver disease, and even anxiety.1-4

No longer just for digestive issues, probiotics also seem to play an extremely important role for your overall health. This new study is one of many recent additions to their growing list of health benefits.

Probiotics May Decrease Blood Pressure by Several Points

Scientists analyzed nine different randomized, clinical trials that included 543 adults. The participants consumed probiotics in different forms including supplements, sour milk, cheese, and yogurt. Here is a summary of the results:

  • On average, systolic blood pressure (top number) decreased by 3.56 points and diastolic pressure (bottom number) by 2.38 points.5

  • Greater benefits were observed in people who took multiple species of bacteria, instead of just one.

  • More improvements in diastolic blood pressure were seen in people whose blood pressure readings were greater than or equal to 130/85 (considered high).

  • A greater intake of bacteria was associated with blood pressure benefits. Consuming less than 1 billion bacteria (1011 colony-forming units per day) did not result in significant benefits.

  • The duration of supplementation made a difference. Trials shorter than 8 weeks did not demonstrate significant blood pressure benefits.

Probiotics Make Peptides Which Lower Blood Pressure

Probiotics may help to maintain healthy blood pressure in a number of ways, such as supporting healthy cholesterol and sugar levels and combating insulin resistance.

Certain species of bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus produce special peptides when milk is fermented. Specifically these peptides inhibit an enzyme called ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) which modulates blood pressure levels in the body.6

These peptides can be found in yogurt and in different types of cheeses.

Don’t Stop Taking Your Blood Pressure Meds

Does this mean you can ditch your blood pressure meds if you’re taking a probiotic? We wouldn't suggest it. The reduction in blood pressure was significant, but not drastic.

Apart from maintaining a healthy weight and eating a heart-healthy diet, adding a probiotic to your regimen is a good idea. While eating fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese is beneficial, for optimal support consider taking a probiotic supplement.

An effective probiotic will contain a high bacterial count — at least several billion CFUs (colony forming units) — and will be formulated to survive acidic stomach conditions.

Need help purchasing one? Contact our advisors at 1-800-226-2370. They can help to provide you with appropriate suggestions.

References:

  1. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2009 Aug;101(8):553-64. 
  2. Ann Nutr Metab. 2013;63(1-2):1-9. 
  3. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2013 Nov;37(6):787-93. 
  4. Br J Nutr. 2011 Mar;105(5):755-64.  
  5. Hypertension. 2014 Jul 21. 
  6. Int J Mol Sci. Sep 2009; 10(9): 3755-3775.

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