Eating probiotics may be as effective at lowering high blood pressure as cutting down on salt, a study has found, suggesting it may reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke by a fifth.
Researchers found that eating yogurts or drinks containing probiotics, so-called friendly bacteria that are good for gut health. Data from nine trials involving over 540 participants and found consuming the live bacteria lowered people’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.
The findings showed people with high blood pressure saw the greatest positive effects on lowering their diastolic blood pressure, and consuming probiotics with multiple species of bacteria worked better than those containing a single type of bacterium.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Having high blood pressure puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke, so it’s vital we do all we can to keep our levels in check.
“While this is an interesting review of the research in this area, it’s too soon to start recommending probiotics for lowering blood pressure. With only a handful of studies involving a limited number of participants and conducted for only short periods, we need more research to confirm the findings seen here.
“In the mean-time, there are a number of well-established lifestyle changes that we can make to keep our blood pressure healthy. Eating less salt, more fruit and vegetables and being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight are all tried and tested ways to do this.”