If you have high blood pressure, it may be time to add more yogurt to your diet.
New research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt and some cheeses, may lower blood pressure.
Probiotics, the "good" bacteria, are known to benefit the digestive system. In a new analysis of the probiotics and blood pressure connection, researchers looked at nine studies involving 543 participants and found that those who consumed probiotics for at least two months had small reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The reduction was greatest in people who had high blood pressure.
But researchers aren't ready to prescribe exactly how much or what kinds of healthy bacteria one should consume to receive these benefits. For now all we know is that eating yogurt as part of a regimen to lower blood pressure can't hurt.
Stacie Wing-Gaia, PhD, RD, CSSD, director of the Sports Nutrition Program at University of Utah, recommends looking for yogurt containing "active live cultures" and to choose one without added sugar. She also suggests a few other ways to incorporate probiotics.
"Try fermented dairy products such as kefir, buttermilk and acidophilus milk, unpasteurized sauerkraut, the Korean staple kimchi, soft cheeses—Gouda is best, but Parmesan, Swiss and cheddar also are good—and fermented soybean foods such as miso, nattō and tempeh. There are also numerous supplements on the market, and more foods are being fortified with probiotics," she says.
Wing-Gaia agrees there are no clear answers about whether eating yogurt and other foods containing probiotics will definitely lower blood pressure. But she advises, "I would eat more yogurt—good for the bones, the gut and maybe your heart!"