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Probiotics May Lower Blood Pressure

That treat so many people have as part of their daily diet, may be keeping their heart healthy.
Eating yogurt with probiotics may help people with hypertension to lower their blood pressure.

Laima Mihailovich's favorite snack could help keep her blood pressure in check.  "I eat yogurt a lot. I'll have it everyday. I love it," she says.

That's because yogurt contains probiotics, a natural bacteria that's believed to help with digestion.  Probiotic supplements are also widely available.

Now, new research examining nine previous studies of more than 500 patients suggests eating probiotics may lower blood pressure. Researchers in Australia found eating probiotics lowered patients' blood pressure 3 points on the top number, and 2 points on the bottom.

"Over a large group of people, when you look at a population, a lower blood pressure by even two or three points can have an impact on important things the risk of stroke, death and heart attack, so we take very seriously a small decrease in blood pressure," says Dr. Harmony Reynolds, a cardiologist at NYU's Langone Medical Center."

Researchers say probiotics with multiple bacteria are better than those with single bacteria. 

Patients had to consume probiotics, regularly, for at least 8 weeks, to see a modest drop in blood pressure.

But Dr. Reynolds says it's not clear that a supplement is as beneficial as getting probiotics from your food.
"Sometimes if people change their diet, exercise more, and probiotic is part of that healthy eating plan, they can avoid medicine, and I love to see that."

"Instead of going and having ice cream, I will have nice cold yogurt and it's very satisfying," Laima says.

And it's an enjoyable step toward keeping her heart healthy.

Researchers say more studies are needed before doctors can recommend probiotics for high blood pressure and prevention. 


(David Begnaud, CBS News)

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