Yakult to introduce blood pressure lowering drink

Related tags Blood pressure Hypertension Probiotic

Japanese functional food company Yakult will next month launch a
new fermented drink designed to lower blood pressure on its home
market, according to a report.

The company, famous for its daily dose probiotic drink, has developed a drink containing gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), produced under a patented method from a mixed culture of Lactobacillus casei Shirota​ and lactococcus lactis​, reported the Japan Corporate News Network.

GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, is sometimes taken to enhance sleep quality. It is also used increasingly in bodybuilding supplements for its effect on growth hormone levels.

Researchers at Yakult have previously reported findings showing that a fermented milk product containing the amino acid may lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.

It is not known if the company will launch the product in Europe, where it currently only markets its original Yakult drink and a Light version - a fraction of its range available on the domestic market.

But a food that can help control blood pressure could present a significant opportunity for the leading fermented drinks company. About two thirds of strokes and half the incidence of heart disease are attributable to raised blood pressure, according to the World Health Organisation. Worldwide, high blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths, about 13 per cent of the total and about 4.4 per cent of the total chronic disease burden.

To date, only Finnish company Valio offers a functional food with the claim that it can help reduce blood pressure - its Evolus fermented milk. But Chr. Hansen, the food industry's biggest supplier of probiotics, recently announced​ that it had developed a bacteria named Cardi-04 that has been shown in animal trials to lower blood pressure.

Yakult, which plans to sell up to 1 million packs of the new product daily next year, has lost global market share in fermented and probiotic drinks since 2001, according to Euromonitor, falling three percentage points to 38 per cent. This contrasts with the steady increase of Danone.

A new product may help the Japanese company stand out once again from the increasingly competitive probiotics market.

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