Preventing High Triglyceride Levels
- Shedding the extra pounds can go a long way in reducing your triglyceride levels. If you are overweight, losing 5% to 10% of your body weight will do wonders for your health in general and triglyceride levels in particular.
- Cut down on added sugar by avoiding sweets, sodas, and other sugary beverages.
- Substitute saturated fats with healthy polyunsaturated fats such as safflower, corn, and soybean oils or healthy monounsaturated fats such as canola and olive oils.
- Because the excess carbohydrate in your diet is what gets later converted into triglycerides, it is essential to follow a low-carbohydrate diet.
- Minimize alcohol consumption, because even a small amount can cause significant damage as far as triglyceride levels are concerned.
- Follow a disciplined and regular eating pattern, broken down into six small meals over the course of the day rather than 3 large meals.
Foods That Could Help Lower Triglycerides
Chances are, you’ve heard that having healthy triglyceride levels in your blood is important. But what exactly are triglycerides, and how do they work in your body? And when you have high levels, is it possible to manage them with lifestyle, and can food make a difference? The good news is, according to food and health pros, what you eat can help. We’ve rounded up some of the foods that can lower triglycerides, and there are plenty of whole foods on the list.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar With Honey
Apple cider vinegar also helps reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
A 2008 study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences found that apple cider vinegar helped improve serum lipid profile in both normal and diabetic rats by decreasing triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins while raising HDL levels.
You can also mix apple cider vinegar with fresh orange, apple, grape, or other fruit juices.
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Health Conditions Related To Triglycerides And Cholesterol
High blood lipid levels may increase your risk for plaques to develop in your arteries or thicken the walls of your arteries .
Other health conditions related to high triglycerides or cholesterol include:
- High blood sugar levels or diabetes
- Metabolic syndromea cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease
- Genetic conditions
Top Foods To Help Lower Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your body. Elevated levels are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease .
Diet plays a major role in the production of triglycerides in your body. Certain foods may even help lower your blood levels.
Here are 8 top foods that may help lower triglyceride levels.
Daily intakes of at least 25 grams of soy protein were most effective at lowering these fats in the blood .
Soybeans, edamame, tofu, and tempeh are excellent sources of isoflavones, a health-promoting compound linked to reduced triglycerides, weight management, and improved menopause symptoms .
Fermented soy products like natto and tempeh have a higher nutritional value than unfermented soy. When used to replace sources of animal protein, they have a potent triglyceride-lowering effect .
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Exercising To Lower Triglycerides
While nutrition probably has the most significant impact on triglycerides, exercise can also lower your levels. But not all forms of exercise produce equally promising results.
When it comes to lowering triglycerides, higher intensity exercise is best.34
There are different ways to define high-intensity exercise. The most common is achieving greater than 85% of your maximum heart rate. However, a more useful definition may be a level of exercise where you can no longer have a conversation or a level you can maintain for only a few minutes.
Resistance training, involving a moderate amount of weight and high repetitions, can also help with triglyceride levels. Lifting extra heavy weight fewer times produces less of a significant effect.35
Does this mean lower intensity exercise doesnt provide health benefits? Of course not. As we detail in our in-depth exercise guide, physical activity of any kind has multiple health benefits.
Even if you cant get to the point where exercise impacts your triglycerides, dont let that discourage you. Carry on to maintain your muscles, strengthen your bones, and build your fitness one step at a time.
Is It Possible To Lower Triglycerides Naturally
Similar to cholesterol, triglycerides come from the food we eat and our liver. When levels are normal, triglycerides are used for energy. The problems arise when levels are high, explains Dr. Nissen. When we make more triglycerides than we use, the rest are stored as fat. Thats why many people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes have high levels.
Poor diabetes control is a major factor in causing high triglyceride levels, Dr. Nissen says. He stresses the importance of watching your carbohydrate consumption. Eating a low-carb diet and getting plenty of exercise are often effective in lowering triglyceride levels.
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Significance Of Triglyceride Levels
When blood lipids are elevated, it increases the risk of certain disease and disorders. Many studies have provided considerable evidence showing that high triglyceride levels are linked to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.
This correlation occurs because high triglyceride levels lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is a combination of cholesterol, triglyceride fats, calcium, cellular waste, and fibrin .
The buildup of plaque deposits is a major contributor to heart disease, as it inevitably leads to decreased blood flow in the arteries. Not only does it have the potential to narrow blood vessels, plaques may also break off the vessel wall, creating an embolus . The embolus can become lodged in small arteries in the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke respectively. High triglyceride levels may also increase the risk of damage to the pancreas, which is responsible for the production of many hormones, including insulin.
Factors That Contribute To High Triglycerides
To assess what kind of treatment might be best for you or if youll need treatment at all your doctor will first look at your blood lipid levels, paying attention to the ratio of triglycerides to total cholesterol, as well as your personal and family history and existing risk factors, says Jacoby.
The 2018 joint guidelines from the AHA and the American College of Cardiology recommend that anyone age 20 or older who has triglyceride levels of 175 to 499 mg/dL first be treated for the underlying medical causes that can contribute to poor blood lipid levels. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
If youve been diagnosed with one of these conditions, your doctor may recommend specific management techniques, which could include many of the lifestyle changes mentioned below, as well as medications.
Some medications, such as oral estrogen medications, beta-blockers, and certain corticosteroids and osteoporosis drugs, may also raise triglyceride levels. If one or more of your medications contributes to your high triglyceride levels, its important to talk to your doctor about how your medications may be affecting you and what that means for your health. According to Dr. Freeman, your doctor might add a medication, switch medications, or recommend changes to your diet to lower your levels. Those changes often include reducing your intake of added sugar, simple carbs, and high-fat foods and moving to a low-fat, whole-foodsbased diet.
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What Causes Levels To Fluctuate
Triglyceride levels fluctuate naturally in response to many factors, including calorie intake and time of day. Eating a meal can cause an increase in triglycerides, which the body may store to use later when it needs energy.
These fluctuations are typically short-lived, but they are part of the reason why doctors may ask a person to fast before getting a lipid profile blood test.
Some health conditions may increase the risk of higher triglyceride levels. According to the
- hormone medications
- immunosuppressant drugs
Anyone who is uncertain about the side effects of their specific medication should speak with their doctor.
A person can use a few treatments to help lower their triglyceride levels.
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Follow A Lower Carb Diet
Much like added sugar, extra calories from carbs in your diet are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
Not surprisingly, low carb diets have been linked to lower blood triglyceride levels .
A review of 12 randomized controlled trials found that people following reduced carb diets typically saw a reduction in triglyceride levels at 6, 12, and 24 months. Across these studies, triglyceride levels decreased the most 6 months after starting a reduced calorie diet .
A 2020 review compared low fat and low carb diets. Researchers found that 612 months after starting their relative diets, those on the low carb diet had greater decreases in triglyceride levels than those on a low fat diet .
Following a low carb diet can lead to a significant reduction in blood triglyceride levels, at least in the short term, when compared with a low fat diet.
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What Can Raise Your Triglycerides
Triglycerides can be raised due to what doctors refer to as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ causes, explained below. Some people have a combination of both.
It is very important that your doctors investigates all these potential causes so that you can start treatment.
Primary causes of raised triglycerides
‘Primary’ refers to inherited conditions which cause raised triglyceride levels.
Limit Your Added Sugar
You know that too much of the sweet stuff is bad news, and thats definitely the case here. When youre eating sugary foods, its easy to end up chowing down on more calories than your body needs.
The excess will be turned into triglycerides, which can lead to serious trouble:One 15-year study found that people who got 25 percent of their calories from sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate significantly less.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons and men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
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When Should You See A Doctor
Because high triglyceride levels usually do not cause any symptoms, theyre typically spotted when a doctor orders a blood test that includes a lipid panel.
If you do not have high risk factors, including health conditions and some lifestyle factors, a doctor will order a lipid panel every few years to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If your lipid panel results show above normal triglyceride levels, a doctor may suggest lifestyle changes focused on diet and exercise. If diet and exercise do not have the desired effect, they may recommend medication such as statins or fibrates.
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What Foods Can Help Lower Triglycerides
Now that you know which foods to avoid, what foods can you add into your diet that can help support healthy triglyceride levels? “Foods to emphasize are high fiber vegetables with lower sugar content, such as cruciferous vegetables,” Archibald says. “Including legumes, canned or cooked from their dried versions, will add both fiber and satiety to the plate.”
Adding healthy omega-3 fats can be helpful as well. “Among fats, seek out foods rich in omega-3 fats, which not only act as natural anti-inflammatories in the body but can also prevent the production of triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver,” says Archibald.
Here are 20 foods that can lower triglycerides.
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Lowering Triglycerides Dessert Options
5. Low Sugar Dessert: Considering the importance that sugars play in spiking triglyceride levels, dessert can seem like a thing of the past for those with elevated levels of the blood fats. In fact, many people with high triglycerides stick to a hypoglycemic diet, where carbohydrates are measured and very limited. However, there are some great dessert options that wont throw a low glycemic diet out of whack and still allow people with elevated three molecule lipid levels to enjoy a sweet treat following a good meal. Low triglycerides recipes for dessert options may be limited, but their taste potential certainly isnt.
Fruit Kabobs are one dessert option for people with high triglycerides. Not all fruit is ideal for people on this type of diet, so low fructose options are best. Choices like cantaloupe and strawberries are great options and work well on a stick to provide a treat as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. Consider low fat yogurt for dipping or a low fat whipped cream.
Parfaits can provide a more decadent treat with creative substitutions serving in place of triglycerides enemies like pound cake and whipped cream. Greek yogurt spiked with honey and cinnamon can be used in place of the creamy filling and handfuls of homemade oatmeal granola can be incorporated for delicious crunch. Layering the parfait with berries and topping with yogurt can finish off the sweet treat.
How To Measure Triglyceride Level
There is no other way to get your triglyceride levels checked then a blood test. Your doctor will order a lipid panel, which will give them a list of all your lipid levels in the bloodstream. This assessment will also look at cholesterol, giving your doctor a good idea of what your cardiovascular risk currently is. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone 21 years and older get a lipid panel at least every 5 years.
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How To Reduce Triglycerides With Medication
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is the bad cholesterol that can lead to plaque building up inside blood vessels, which can then lead to heart disease. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can be elevated by various factors such as eating too many carbohydrates and foods high in sugar, not enough exercise, and smoking.
The good news is there are ways to reduce triglycerides with medication if you have high levels of them and you dont want to make changes like cutting back on carbs or exercising more. Your doctor may recommend taking a statin drug or another type of medication called ezetimibe, for example.
Simple Steps To Lower Triglycerides Naturally
Recent research suggests that there are several different natural treatments for lowering triglycerides. By lowering the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, these natural therapies can reduce triglyceride levels.
There are many potential causes for high levels of triglycerides which include being overweight or obese, being active, ethnicity, smoking cigarettes, eating a diet high in sugar and fat, or alcohol use. These five steps should help to lower high triglyceride levels naturally.
1) Eat a low-fat diet: Triglyceride levels are increased by eating foods high in fat because these fats are converted into fatty acids in the bloodstream. Lowering fat intake will help to lower triglyceride levels.
2) Exercise: Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
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A Promising New Treatment For High Triglycerides
- By Gregory Curfman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Former Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Health Publishing
When you think about fat circulating in the bloodstream, you might immediately think of cholesterol. But theres another type of fat you shouldnt ignore: triglycerides. As with cholesterol, high triglycerides can also increase the risk of having a heart attack. Existing drugs for lowering triglycerides arent that good at reducing heart attack risk. Thats why a report on a new way to lower triglycerides, New England Journal of Medicine, is generating some excitement among cardiologists.
Ask The Doctor: What Should I Do About High Triglycerides
Q. On my last blood test, my triglycerides were 280. Should I be worried about that? My doctor wants me to start taking something called Lopid. Is there another solution?
A. Under the current national cholesterol guidelines, fasting triglycerides should be under 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood . Your level is almost twice that, and well into the high triglycerides category, which begins at 200 mg/dL.
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How Are Triglycerides Measured
Your doctor may give you a common test called a lipid panel. It checks for different types of cholesterol, including the levels of the “good” kind and the “bad” kind. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone 21 and older get a lipid panel at least every 5 years.
The levels are checked after an overnight fast. Fat from a recent meal can muddy the picture.
These tests are important because you rarely have any symptoms when your triglycerides are high, unlike with many other conditions.
What Are Normal And High Triglyceride Levels
The National Cholesterol Education Program sets guidelines for triglyceride levels:
- Normal levels: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter
- Borderline high:150 to 199
- High: 200 to 499
- Very high: 500 or more
Elevated levels may lead to heart disease, especially in people with low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of bad cholesterol. The same is true if you have type 2 diabetes.
Experts once debated how important triglycerides are, but it now seems clear that higher levels are linked to problems such as heart disease.
One thing is clear, though: A good diet and exercise plan can lower triglyceride levels, improve cholesterol, and decrease the chance of heart disease.
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