British Journal of Nutrition

Systematic review with meta-analysis

Effect of probiotic fermented milk on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Jia-Yi Donga1, Ignatius M. Y. Szetoa2, Kimmo Makinena3, Qiutao Gaoa2, Junkuan Wanga2, Li-Qiang Qina1 c1 and Youyou Zhaoa2 c1

a1 Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Soochow University, 199 Renai Road, Dushu Lake Higher Education Town, Suzhou 215123, People's Republic of China

a2 Nestlé Research Center Beijing, Building 5, No. 5 Dijin Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100095, People's Republic of China

a3 Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland


Previous studies have suggested that probiotic fermented milk may possess blood pressure (BP)-lowering properties. In the present study, we aimed to systematically examine the effect of probiotic fermented milk on BP by conducting a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PubMed, Cochrane library and the databases were searched up to March 2012 to identify eligible studies. The reference lists of the obtained articles were also reviewed. Either a fixed-effects or a random-effects model was used to calculate the combined treatment effect. Meta-analysis of fourteen randomised placebo-controlled trials involving 702 participants showed that probiotic fermented milk, compared with placebo, produced a significant reduction of 3·10 mmHg (95 % CI − 4·64, − 1·56) in systolic BP and 1·09 mmHg (95 % CI − 2·11, − 0·06) in diastolic BP. Subgroup analyses suggested a slightly greater effect on systolic BP in hypertensive participants than in normotensive ones ( − 3·98 v. − 2·09 mmHg). Analysis of trials conducted in Japan showed a greater reduction than those conducted in European countries for both systolic BP ( − 6·12 v. − 2·08 mmHg) and diastolic BP ( − 3·45 v. − 0·52 mmHg). Some evidence of publication bias was present, but sensitivity analysis excluding small trials that reported extreme results only affected the pooled effect size minimally. In summary, the present meta-analysis suggested that probiotic fermented milk has BP-lowering effects in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive subjects.

(Received January 07 2013)

(Revised April 23 2013)

(Accepted April 25 2013)

(Online publication July 03 2013)

Key Words:

  • Probiotics;
  • Fermented milk;
  • Blood pressure;
  • Meta-analyses;
  • Randomised controlled trials


c1 Corresponding authors: L.-Q. Qin, email; Y. Zhao, fax +86 10 5987 1301, email


  Abbreviations: BP, blood pressure