Triglycerides are the main form of fat in your body. It is normal that our blood contains some levels of triglycerides, as they are often the by-products of fat being broken down and digested after a meal. However, if you consume excess calories regardless from any source – carbohydrates, fats or protein – our body will transform these excess calories into triglycerides for storage as body fat. Yup! The beer belly and extra fat are indeed triglycerides! Therefore it is more common to see high triglyceride blood level in overweight or obese individuals.
- Desirable: < 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
- High: > 200 mg/dL (2.3 mmol/L)
- Very High: >500 mg/dL (5.7 mmol/L)
High triglyceride level is associated with increased risk of heart disease. For other cholesterol levels, check our Cholesterol Numbers Guide.
Why is it bad to have high triglyceride level?
High triglycerides contribute to hardening of blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The problem is, triglycerides cannot be lowered overnight, and are usually caused by multiple factors such as obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, or poorly-managed diabetes. The good news is, diet and healthy eating habits can aid lowering triglycerides.
How to Lower Triglycerides with Diet and Food
- Pay attention to your cooking oil you use at home. Try to choose from these top 10 cooking oil
- Cut back on deep-fried fast foods and snacks.
- Ensure no ingredients in your packaged foods contains partially hydrogenated oil or other solid fats such as palm oil
- Include more high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, oatmeal, seeds, and fruits, in your diet.
- Cut back on sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, and other sweetened drinks like bottled iced tea.
- Cut back on high fructose corn syrup, to be exact. A 2011 study found that feeding healthy study volunteers high fructose corn syrup increased their triglycerides and heart disease risk in just 2 weeks!
- Limit alcohol to maximum 1 drink a day for women, and 2 drinks for men.
- Eat more omega 3-rich foods such as fish and walnuts.
- Speak to your doctor about taking fish oil or omega 3 supplements. According to the American Heart Association, you need 2 to 4 grams of EPA plus DHA per day
- Do not over-eat; watch portion size when eating out.
- Lose weight. Studies showed that merely losing 5% of your body weight can trigger an effect!
- Get active at least 5 times a week. You really don’t need a rigorous workout routine. Studies found that walking 12 miles a week alone can help lower triglycerides by as much as 25 percent!
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.