Are Probiotics Good for the Heart?Wednesday Apr 12, 2023
Did you know heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States? That makes heart health and lowering cholesterol extremely important, to which gut health may hold the key. That's because there's a link between gut health and heart health.
In fact, research shows the trillions of tiny microbes that inhabit your gut have a hand in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This blog post is dedicated to exploring that relationship and discussing the reasons you might want to consider taking probiotics for heart health.
Don't know what probiotics are?
If you've never heard of probiotics, you can think of them as the friendly bacteria that work to create a healthy environment for your gut. Having a diverse set of beneficial bacteria (comprised of stand out probiotic species like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) definitely has a positive impact on gut health. But the benefits don't stop there.
Since gut health is often just a reflection of overall health, a healthy gut can also mean enhanced immune health, higher energy levels, the clearing up of skin issues like acne, and improved heart health, just to name a few benefits.
You can get probiotics from whole foods like:
Another convenient alternative to get more probiotics is through supplements. And if you decide to go the personalized route with a probiotic supplement like Floré , the cool thing about that is you know you're getting a probiotic supplement customized to your unique gut health needs and your unique microbiome profile, as opposed to a generic probiotic anyone can just get straight off of the shelf.
1. Probiotics may bring down cholesterol levels
One factor that can increase your risk of heart disease is higher cholesterol levels. So when it comes to probiotics for heart health, you're probably wondering: Do probiotics lower cholesterol?
The good news is that there's a ton of research out there that points to the fact that probiotics may help lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
In terms of probiotics for heart health, there seem to be three primary ways they can help with helping reduce cholesterol levels:
- Probiotic bacteria attach itself to cholesterol, which inhibits its absorption into your intestines.
- Probiotics help to create enzymes or bile, which break down fat and cholesterol.
- Probiotics make short-chain fatty acids (propionic acid specifically), which restricts cholesterol from being made in the liver.
Numerous studies show the benefits of probiotics for heart health when it comes to reducing cholesterol levels. In these studies, it seems that Lactobacillus probiotic strains are particularly effective at helping lower cholesterol levels.
In this study , for example, Lactobacillus probiotics strains (Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus reuteri being some of the more noteworthy strains) resulted in substantial improvement when it came to lowering cholesterol levels.
And in this 9-week study , 127 people with high cholesterol experienced a drop in total cholesterol by 9% and a decline in LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol by a whopping 12% when taking a daily Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic supplement.
2. Probiotics may decrease blood pressure
There are many factors that increase the risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure. But research shows one of the benefits of probiotics for heart health has to do with lowering blood pressure. However, there are a couple of caveats to the effectiveness of probiotics for heart health and the lowering of blood pressure.
For example, this review of studies found that probiotics did the best job at reducing blood pressure under the following circumstances:
- Initial blood pressure was high
- A diverse set of probiotic species and types were taken simultaneously
- Probiotics were consumed for 8+ weeks
- The total probiotic amount consumed was high
3. Probiotics may have benefits for reducing inflammation
Inflammation is your body's way of trying to protect itself from harmful pathogens. And while short-term inflammation (such as when you sprain an ankle or foot) isn't much to worry about, chronic inflammation—which can be brought on by a poor diet or lifestyle habits—can present a whole multitude of health issues.
On that list includes leaky gut , Alzheimer's disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and last but certainly not least, heart disease. Fortunately, research shows probiotics for heart health may play a key role in helping reduce inflammation.
A study published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition spanning 127 participants found that consuming a probiotic for roughly 2 months led to a substantial decrease in inflammatory markers in the body (C-reactive protein and fibrinogen).
C-reactive protein is a protein produced in the liver that experiences elevated levels during inflammation. Fibrinogen is a chemical that, while it plays a key role in preventing bleeding by clotting your blood, can cause arterial plaque and heart disease. In fact, research associates higher levels of fibrinogen with an increased heart disease risk.
Wrapping up probiotics for heart health
There are many benefits of probiotics, from improved immunity to increased energy levels, and even clearer-looking skin. But make sure not to forget about the benefits of probiotics for heart health we've discussed in this post!
Benefits of probiotics for heart health include:
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Less inflammation
All of the benefits mentioned above have a hand in reducing heart disease risk.
Want to learn more about the positive impact of probiotics? Check out this post on why you should consider taking probiotics for UTIs.