Probiotics and cardiovascular health

… focus on Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, an antioxidant probiotic that reduces atherosclerosis risk factors

Recent research on the gut microbiome has revealed that the benefits of probiotics could extend well beyond their traditional role in digestive and immune health. Maintenance of cardiovascular health is one emerging application for probiotics. Here we focus on Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, a unique probiotic strain with antioxidant properties, whose effects on cardiovascular risk factors have been demonstrated by several human clinical studies. The ability of L. fermentum ME-3 to raise glutathione levels in the body makes it a promising probiotic strain for prevention of many other age-related conditions.

Cardiovascular health, an emerging application for probiotics

The positive effects of probiotics on immune, digestive and vaginal health are well recognized. In contrast, the possibility to use probiotics for prevention of cardiovascular diseases is an emerging concept, and probiotic products for this application have only recently appeared on the market.

Yet, the idea that probiotics may be beneficial for cardiovascular health is not new, since in the early 1970s already Mann et al. had reported that consumption of fermented milk products by Masai people resulted in lowered blood cholesterol levels (Mann and Spoerry, 1974). Subsequent studies however gave equivocal results, flawed by technical issues and also by the fact that the properties involved are highly strain specific. It is only in the recent years that the potential of specific probiotic strains could finally be demonstrated.

This article is available in full in the Summer 2015 issue of Nutraceuticals Now