Why Lowering High Triglyceride Levels Matters
The national guidelines for fasting triglyceride levels in healthy adults are:
- Normal: Under 150 milligrams per deciliter .
- Borderline High: 151200 mg/dl.
- High: 201499 mg/dl.
- Very High: 500 mg/dl or higher.
When your triglyceride levels are high and you have a high amount of LDL cholesterol or a low amount of HDL cholesterol, all of this could contribute to the development of fatty buildups within the artery walls of the heart. The buildup can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Consider The Bigger Picture
Certain health issues can affect your triglyceride level. Type 2 diabetes, for instance, is a risk factor for high triglycerides. So are thyroid issues and kidney diseases like uremia.
If youre concerned about your triglycerides, it makes sense to see your doctor for a head-to-toe checkup to see if any underlying causes could potentially be at play.
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And Limit Unhealthy Ones
Namely, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, which sometimes show up in baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, refrigerated dough , nondairy creamers, and margarines.
Eating these harmful fats can send your triglycerides up in just a few short weeks, not to mention raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
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Why Try To Reduce Cholesterol Without Medication
You might not want to take medication to bring your cholesterol down for several reasons.
Statins are a type of medication used to manage high cholesterol. The side effects of statins may be seen by some as worse than the risks of having high cholesterol. These side effects can include:
- muscle pain
, you should get your cholesterol levels checked:
- every 5 years after you turn age 20
- more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular conditions
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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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol By Making Lifestyle Changes
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, and through taking medicines if that’s what your doctor advises. Some people will only need to improve their lifestyle and diet to get their cholesterol to a safe level. Others may need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, as well.
Why Should I Care About High Lipids
High lipids, whether it be elevated triglycerides or cholesterol, are well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Excess cholesterol can be deposited and accumulated on your blood vessels, for instance, your coronary arteries or vessels to your heart. When this happens it can lead to the formation of a plaque. The plaque can narrow your vessels. It can also rupture and lead to a blood clot. This blood clot can block your artery, causing a heart attack or stroke.
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My Doctor Put Me On A Statin So Im Fine Right
A statin is a type of drug that works to lower your cholesterol by restricting the enzyme involved in your own bodys cholesterol production.
As with any medication, statins do come with some side effects. The most common symptom, is muscle aches/pain, occurring in about 5 percent of people on a statin . Other less common side effects include increased blood sugar, inflammation in the liver, and confusion . Unfortunately, statins are also known for decreasing the levels of coenzyme q10 in the body, which is involved in many nerve and muscle pathways .
Statins can improve some cholesterol numbers and may reduce the risk of a heart attack . Doctors may recommend a statin to you for reasons like family history/risk, for example. For most of us, though, statins do not address the most common root causean unhealthy lifestyle! Improving diet, exercise, and stress may reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 80 percent !
My point in saying this isnt for you to go willy nilly and nix your statins. Instead, it is SO IMPORTANT to understand that we cannot take a drug and call it good. We have to make lifestyle modifications our primary focus in order to make REAL change in our health!
The most powerful medication you can take is at the end of your fork.
Disclaimer: Please talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication.
Why Treatment Is Not Straightforward
While several kinds of prescription medications can substantially improve cholesterol levels, until recently only one class of drugs had been repeatedly shown to also improve cardiovascular riskthe statins.
PCSK9 inhibitor drugs, first approved for use in treating cholesterol in 2015, also show new promise as risk reducers. Two large clinical outcome trials using PCSK9 inhibitors have definitively shown improved cardiovascular outcomesand thus cardiovascular risk reductionwith the PCKS9 inhibitors evolocumab and alirocumab.
Anyone who already has coronary artery disease, or has had a stroke, diabetes, or other risk factors that place them at very high risk for cardiovascular disease, should be strongly considered for statin therapy. PCSK9 inhibitor therapy may also be an option.
If you are in this category, taking supplementseven if they are effective in improving your lipid levelsis not enough.
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Diet Advice: How To Lower Triglycerides Naturally
So how can you lower triglycerides naturally? First, try eating your way to better heart health.
A healthy triglyceride diet should include a combination of foods with specific nutrients, including those that are rich in antioxidants, like cranberries. And until you learn how to lower triglycerides below 150 mg/dL, you may also want to augment your diet with nutritional supplements that provide therapeutic levels of these same nutrients. Drinking tea is another beneficial habit for reducing triglycerides.
Most important, make sure the following trio of key nutrients are in your diet.
How to lower triglycerides naturally? Get your omega-3 fatty acids salmon is a top source.
Know The Dangers Of Trans Fats
Trans fats are dangerous for your heart, because they raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The chief culprit youll see on product labels is partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats are the result of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to increase shelf life. This may make some baked and fried foods taste better, but trans fats are very unhealthy, particularly for people with high triglycerides. In fact, trans fats should make up less than 1 percent of your total calories, according to the World Health Organization. Check your food labels: If a food contains trans fats or hydrogenated oils, leave it on the shelf.
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What Is High Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar level can be determined by taking a blood sample, either in a fasted state, or two hours after eating.
- If your blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL after an eight-hour fast or less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating, youre in the normal range.
- If you conduct a test in the morning, after sleeping for eight hours, and your blood sugar is at 126 mg/dL or higher, youve got high blood sugar.
An estimated 29 million people in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes, which is the result of blood sugar levels being consistently high. Another 86 million have prediabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Prediabetes, however, can be reversed by finding ways to naturally lower blood sugar.
When Supplements Make Sense
Not everyone with an elevated cholesterol level needs to take a statin. There are ways to achieve moderate lowering of cholesterol levels without using such drugs.
If you are basically healthy, and a formal assessment of your cardiovascular risk places you in a low-risk groupor at least shows that your risk is not high enough to warrant statin therapythen non-prescription cholesterol lowering makes good sense.
Lets review some of the commonly used non-prescription means of lowering cholesterol.
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Ways To Lower Triglycerides Without Statins
Cholesterol does play a vital role in your body
Its important to all your cell membranes. Its a precursor to your natural steroid and sex hormones. Its needed to produce vitamin D and bile acids. And its also involved in healthy nervous system and brain function.
If you take a visit to your physician, common measurements of assessment include total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and HDL levels. Its high total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL that have long been associated with increased risk of heart disease. But HDL cholesterol is vital to the body, especially for optimal cardiovascular health. The special job of HDL is transporting LDL cholesterol and plaque buildup from the arteries back to the liver for breakdown.
Fortunately, triglycerides and LDL are aspects of your health that can be influenced from your very own your kitchen, using the great powers of nutrient dense foods
Cut Back On Sugar And Refined Carbs
Different carbohydrate-loaded foods also contain very different nutritional levels.
Dr. Nissen recommends scaling back or eliminating:
- Whole grains.
- Brown rice.
Dr. Nissen advises that increasing your fiber intake may lower triglyceride levels. If you have high triglyceride levels, theres a good chance you dont ingest close to the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, he says.
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Address Underlying Health Issues
Remember, although triglycerides can be high due to bad lifestyle and dietary choices, they can also be high due to an underlying health condition. The most important thing is to work with your doctor to find out whats causing your high triglyceride levels and to treat any underlying conditions!
For example, triglycerides can be high due to liver disease, infections, underactive thyroid , autoimmune disease, or some genetic disorders just to name a few .
In these cases, simply changing your diet or lifestyle wont help address the underlying issue and may actually be harmful!
In addition, high triglyceride levels can be dangerous for your body. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe triglyceride-lowering medication.
Thats why, if your triglycerides are elevated, you should discuss the lifestyle and dietary changes listed below with your doctor. None of these strategies should ever be done in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes!
How To Lower Your Triglycerides Level
Typically, there arenât any symptoms of high triglycerides. Thatâs why doctors do a blood test also called a lipid panel or lipid blood test to check your triglyceride levels, along with your cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults have this test done every four to six years, and more frequently if you have a family history of heart disease.
- Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is a normal level of triglycerides
- Between 150 to 199 mg/dL is considered borderline high
- Between 200 to 499 mg/dL is considered high
- Above 500 mg/dL is considered very high
Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and smoking cigarettes are associated with higher triglycerides, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
Unless a person has very high triglycerides or a history of heart problems, lifestyle changes are the first option to lower triglycerides, says Patel. These include exercising, drinking less alcohol, managing your weight, and dietary changes. For instance, losing 5% to 10% of your weight can lead to a 40 mg/dL reduction in triglycerides, according to a July 2011 study in Diabetes Care.
Medications, such as statins, fibrates, and niacin, can also help lower triglycerides by either preventing your body from making more triglycerides or decreasing the absorption of fat from food, Patel says. If your triglycerides are over 500, then medication is typically prescribed, due to the risk of pancreatitis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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Do High Triglyceride Levels Affect Hdl And Cholesterol Levels
Triglycerides are involved in the transport of fatty acids to muscles and tissues for energy.
- HDL particles are involved in the transport of excess fatty acids from the periphery back to the liver for elimination. Because of these competing roles, it is very difficult to increase HDL, the healthy good cholesterol, without first addressing triglycerides.
- HDL not only transports excess lipid to the liver for disposal, but it also transports cholesterol to organs such as the adrenals, ovaries, and testes for steroid hormone synthesis.
- Many of the strategies discussed here that lower triglycerides are also known to raise HDL.
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Eat More Protein And Fat
Lean sources of protein like eggs, egg whites, chicken breast, turkey breast, extra-lean ground beef, bison, etc. are all filling food options that have no sugar. These lean options will not cause a spike in blood sugar, and they provide high satiety so you wont snack on sugary options later in the day.
If you elect to have these high-protein options in a sandwich form, pick a whole-grain bun, because it wont elicit the same metabolic response that white bread will, keeping blood sugar levels from spiking too high. Including some dietary fat with your meal or as a snack can also improve insulin response. Instead of reaching for a sugary snack or plate of fries as a side, opt for nuts and fruit or a salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
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Medications Can Lower Ldl And Triglycerides
To get cholesterol and triglycerides into the target zone, many people with diabetes need to add medications to their healthy eating and exercise plans. Reducing elevated LDL cholesterol is typically the top priority. To achieve the target goals, many people need to take a medication in the statin category.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that statin therapy be added for people who have:
- a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and whose LDL cholesterol doesn’t hit the target of 100 mg/dl or less with healthy lifestyle change.
- cardiovascular disease and who don’t reach the LDL cholesterol target of 70 mg/dl or less.
Statin medications are most effective at lowering LDL cholesterol. All medications should be prescribed and monitored by a health care provider.
Common statins include:
Other medications that lower both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides:
- Prescription-strength niacin
Other medications prescribed to lower LDL cholesterol:
- Bile acid sequestrants, such as Questran or Colestid
- Welchol , a bile acid sequestrant that can also lower blood glucose
Other medications prescribed to lower triglycerides:
- Prescription-strength fish-oil pills
Other medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure:
Medications that have been found to increase triglycerides:
- Birth-control pills
- Tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug
Seven Tips To Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication
THE SINGULAR FOCUS on treating cholesterol as a means to prevent heart attacks is leading to the deaths of millions of people because the real underlying cause of the majority of heart disease is not being diagnosed or treated by most physicians.
For example, I recently saw a patient named Jim who had normal cholesterol levels yet was taking the most powerful statin on the market, Crestor. Despite this aggressive pharmaceutical treatment, this man was headed for a serious heart attack.
Jims doctors had missed his real disease risks by focusing on and treating his cholesterol levels. All the while they were ignoring the most important condition that put him at dramatically higher risk of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. In a moment I will explain what this condition is and what you can do about it.
This craze for treating cholesterol has lead to an onslaught of pharmaceuticals designed to lower cholesterol. Statins are now the number one selling class of drugs in the nation and new cholesterol medications are produced every day.
The latest in a new class of super cholesterol drugs, CETP inhibitors, now in the drug approval pipeline from Merck burst into the news recently with exclamations from typically restrained scientists. Data on this new drug was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.
Why Lowering Cholesterol May Not Lower the Risk of Death
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Eatand Drinkless Added Sugar
If you notice youre reaching for chocolate bars and springing for larger sizes of your favorite flavored coffee, you may need to crack your sugar addiction. Getting hopped up on the sweet stuff doesnt do your triglycerides any favors. Any added sugar can cause a spike in TG levels, from both food and drink, Palinski-Wade says. Aim to limit your intake of added sugar to no more than 10 percent of total calories to help prevent triglyceride levels from rising. Look out for added sugar in flavored drinks , breakfast cereals, and yogurtsand keep an eye out for sneaky sugars that end in ose, such as sucrose, fructose, lactose, and dextrose.
Ask Your Doctor About Natural Supplements
Several natural supplements could have the potential to lower blood triglycerides. Always speak with your doctor before starting any supplements, as they can interact with other medications.
Note especially that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements in the same way as it regulates pharmaceuticals, and supplement quality can vary widely.
Below are a few of the main supplements that have been studied:
- Fish oil. Well known for its potent effects on heart health, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease triglycerides and several other risk factors for heart disease (
Several supplements have been studied for their ability to lower triglyceride levels, including fish oil, fenugreek, garlic extract, guggul, and curcumin.
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