Is your blood pressure creeping up? At least one in three of us know the feeling. Boston University researchers reveal an often-missed culprit is uric acid — the same troublemaker that causes gout. Uric acid is a normal waste product of metabolism, but if your blood level gets too high and your kidneys can’t flush it out, this compound can tighten your arteries, causing blood pressure to soar. The good news: Six studies suggest lowering your uric acid level can help you trim up to 22 points off your blood pressure. And it’s easy!
Refill your glass.
Sipping five cups of water throughout your day will cut your risk of uric acid overloads — and complications like high blood pressure and gout flares — by 38 percent, New Zealand researchers say. Explains rheumatologist Nicola Dalbeth, MD, staying well-hydrated keeps the uric acid in your bloodstream diluted, so it’s far less likely to irritate and tighten your arteries and cause pressure spikes.
Snack on berries.
Whether you prefer blueberries or blackberries, fresh from the farmers market or frozen, nibbling on 1 cup of your favorite berries daily can cut your uric acid level by 25 percent — and trim 7 points off your blood pressure — in two months, British researchers say. Cardiologist Lisa Boschek, MD, explains, the nutrients that give berries their cheery colors (anthocyanins) slow uric acid formation in cells.
Try celery seed.
Celery seeds contain a rare plant compound (3nB) that helps your kidneys flush uric acid. No wonder University of Illinois researchers say taking 150 mg. of celery seed extract daily can trim 8 points off your blood pressure in three months. Bonus: Celery seed extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can quiet joint pain as effectively as aspirin and ibuprofen. Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
Flush away trouble.
Enjoying three daily servings of yogurt, milk, or cheese could cut your risk of uric acid buildup by 50 percent, according to a report in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Proteins in dairy help your kidneys flush away the compound before it causes harm.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.