Should You Worry About High Triglycerides
These blood fats can be one of the signs of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Until recently, triglycerides tended to get less attention when looking at cardiovascular risk compared to LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. There’s no question that extremely high levels spell trouble and can lead to acute pancreatitis. But what about treating lower levels of triglycerides? Recent evidence suggests you should work to reduce triglyceride levels of they are higher than normal, especially if you have heart disease or have other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking.
*All values in milligrams per deciliter
What Is Vldl And How Does It Relate To Triglyceride
Very low-density lipoprotein is one of the major lipoprotein particles. Others include high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . Each one of these particles contains a mixture of cholesterol, protein, and triglyceride but in varying amounts unique to each type of particle. LDL contains the highest amount of cholesterol. HDL contains the highest amount of protein. VLDL contains the highest amount of triglyceride. Since VLDL contains most of the circulating triglyceride and since the compositions of the different particles are relatively constant, it is possible to estimate the amount of VLDL-cholesterol by dividing the triglyceride value by 5. At present, there is no simple, direct way of measuring VLDL-cholesterol, so the estimate calculated from triglyceride is used in most settings. This calculation is not valid when the triglyceride is greater than 400 mg/dL. Increased levels of VLDL-cholesterol have been found to be associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Symptoms Of Elevated Triglyceride Levels
Your triglyceride level may be high without having any type of symptoms. If the triglyceride levels are extremely high, it may show up as fatty deposits called xanthoma. These are yellowish deposits of lipids occurring under the skin.
In cases of genetically high triglycerides , the triglyceride levels may be so high that you develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. Signs you might have pancreatitis from high triglyceride levels include decreased appetite, fever, nausea and vomiting, and severe pain in the upper part of the abdomen.
Triglyceride levels can be tracked by having a lipid profile checked on a periodic basis. If your triglyceride level is normal, the levels are under 150 mg/dL. If your triglyceride level is borderline high, the levels are 150-199 mg/dL. High triglyceride levels are between 200 and 499 mg/dL and extremely high triglyceride levels mean that the triglyceride levels are in excess of 500 mg/dL.
High triglyceride levels may also mean you have high cholesterol levels as well. The combination of high cholesterol and high triglycerides are more dangerous than just having high triglyceride levels. Only a lipoprotein blood test can tell if you have high triglyceride or high cholesterol levels.
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What Are Normal Triglyceride Levels
Normal fasting blood triglyceride levels are:
- Lower than 150 mg/dL for adults
- Lower than 90 mg/dL for children ages 10 to 19
Your doctor may diagnose you with high blood triglycerides if your fasting blood triglyceride levels are consistently 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
Talk to your doctor about what your numbers mean for you.
Causes Of High Triglycerides + Normal Levels
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Know Your Triglyceride Numbers
A blood test called a lipid panel checks both your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Usually, your doctor will ask that you fast, or not eat or drink anything other than water, for 9-12 hours before the test. Youâll get blood taken from a vein in your arm. Some labs offer non-fasting lipid panels, or they may prick your finger for blood.
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or above
Anyone over age 20 needs to get regular tests to track their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to the American Heart Association.
How Is It Used
Blood tests for triglycerides are usually part of a lipid profile that is used to help identify an individualâs risk of developing heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be needed if there is borderline or high risk. As part of a lipid profile, it may be used to monitor people who have risk factors for heart disease, those who have had a heart attack, or those who are being treated for high lipid and/or high triglyceride levels.
Results of the cholesterol test and other components of the lipid profile are used along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as diet or exercise programs, or lipid-lowering drugs, such as statins.
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What Is A High Triglyceride Level
High triglycerides can be dangerous to your health. Unfortunately, high triglycerides, like high cholesterol, rarely causes symptoms. Its vital to get routine lipid blood tests to check cholesterol numbers.
Your healthcare provider determines total cholesterol by looking at a combination of triglycerides, HDL and LDL numbers. If your triglycerides and LDL cholesterol are high, but your HDL is low, you have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
For the most accurate reading, you should fast 8 to 12 hours before a lipid blood test. A healthy number for triglycerides is below 150 milligrams per deciliter .
Your healthcare provider classifies high triglyceride levels as:
- Mild: 150-199 mg/dL.
- Severe: Greater than 500 mg/dL.
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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How Do Foods Affect Triglyceride Levels
Eating foods high in simple sugars significantly contributes to high triglyceride levels. Follow these guidelines to limit simple sugars in your diet:
- Substitute beverages like colas, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade, Hi-C and Kool-Aid with artificially sweetened beverages labeled sugar-free or diet.
- Limit hard candies, chocolates, candy bars, and gummy bears.
- Avoid adding table sugar and brown sugar to cereal, drinks or foods. Instead, use an artificial or herbal sweetener or nothing at all!
- Choose sugar-free gum or mints instead of the regular versions.
- Try light or low-sugar syrups on pancakes and waffles.
- Spread breads and crackers with no-sugar-added jelly or preserves.
- Snack on whole fruit instead of fruit roll-ups and other fruit-flavored treats.
- When selecting cereals, choose those with no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
- Try sugar-free gelatin, popsicles, yogurts, and puddings instead of the regular versions.
- Be aware that desserts labeled fat-free usually contain more sugar than the full-fat varieties and the same number of calories.
- Cut back on or avoid eating sweets and dessert foods, including cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, gelato, and flavored ices. All of these foods contain high levels of sugar.
- Read the ingredients list on food labels, and limit foods that list any of the following words in the first few ingredients:
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Whats The Target Level For Triglycerides
For Australians who are being treated for high cholesterol, the target level of triglycerides in the blood should be less than 2.0 mmol/L.
For other Australians, the level of triglycerides that is considered acceptable is not looked at in isolation, but based on a persons overall risk of cardiovascular disease, which takes into account other factors. But generally, the target is less than 2.0 mmol/L.
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What Are Very High Triglycerides
Just as it sounds, having very high triglycerides means that you have too much of this type of fat in your blood. Your doctor may call this condition severe hypertriglyceridemia.
It is detected through a simple blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test measures your:
- Overall cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
You will likely be asked to get your blood taken after fastingwhen you havent had any food or drink for eight, and sometimes up to 12 hours. This will show your triglyceride level when your body has cleared any cholesterol from meals youve eaten. A triglyceride level done without fasting can also be very revealing because it often shows that your body is not clearing the cholesterol from food.
Your health care provider will likely use your fasting results to guide treatment, but cases can be very different
Like other types of cholesterol, triglycerides are measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. There are four categories of triglyceride levels according to the American Heart Association. Someone is diagnosed with very high triglycerides when the amount of triglycerides found in the blood is 500 mg/dL or more under 150 mg/dL is considered normal.
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How To Reduce Triglycerides: Exercise Exercise Exercise
If you’re carrying around a little extra weight, get moving! To get in shape and lower your triglycerides at the same time, start a regular workout routine.
The goal should be 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. When you exercise, be sure to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. With this routine you can cut your triglycerides by 20% to 30%.
New to exercise? Wondering where to start?
- Sign up for a dance class.
- Go for a swim.
- Find time each day for a brisk walk.
- Lift light-weight dumbbells
Finding Out Your Triglycerides Levels
Triglycerides are measured with a simple blood test. Triglyceride levels should be measured when you have a cholesterol test as they can also contribute to your risk of developing heart disease, and other disease of the heart and blood vessels. The triglyceride test measures the triglycerides carried in chylomicrons and VLDL cholesterol. National guidelines in the UK no longer recommend a fasting blood test .
What should your triglyceride levels be?
HEART UK experts state that we should aim for a non-fasting triglyceride level below 2.3mmol/L.
If your doctor has asked you to fast for a test then your triglyceride level should be below 1.7mmol/L. This “fasting test” number is lower because only the triglycerides made by the liver and carried in the VLDL cholesterol will be measured not the triglycerides you get from food. As you have not eaten, there will be no chylomicrons present in your blood.
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Egg White Scramble With Spinach
Eggs are notoriously high in cholesterol, but all of it is contained in the yolk. The whites are cholesterol-free and packed with protein.
Scramble up a couple of egg whites and toss in a handful of spinach for fiber. Cook your eggs in olive or canola oil. These healthy oils could help improve your cholesterol numbers even more.
Saturated And Unsaturated Fats
For human nutrition, an important classification of fats is based on the number and position of double bonds in the constituent fatty acids. Saturated fat has a predominance of saturated fatty acids, without any double bonds, while unsaturated fat has predominantly unsaturated acids with double bonds.
Unsaturated fatty acids are further classified into monounsaturated , with a single double bond, and polyunsaturated , with two or more. Natural fats usually contain several different saturated and unsaturated acids, even on the same molecule. For example, in most vegetable oils, the saturated palmitic and stearic acid residues are usually attached to positions 1 and 3 of the glycerol hub, whereas the middle position is usually occupied by an unsaturated one, such as oleic or linoleic .)
While it is the nutritional aspects of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are generally of greatest interest, these materials also have non-food applications. They include the drying oils, such as linseed , tung, poppyseed, perilla, and walnut oil, which polymerize on exposure to oxygen to form solid films, and are used to make paints and varnishes.
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Are There Symptoms Of Raised Triglyceride Levels
High triglyceride levels will not usually result in symptoms but, if you have diabetes and live in the UK, you should be given a cholesterol test at least once each year which will test your triglycerides in addition to cholesterol
Whilst it is less common, some people may develop fat deposits under the skin called xanthomas.
These are yellow lumps that can develop anywhere on the body but are more commonly found around the eyelids and around joints such as the knees, elbows and knuckles.
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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What Can You Do At Home To Treat High Triglycerides
The main way to deal with high triglycerides is to eat better and get more exercise. Here are some guidelines to help you manage your level:
Moderate exercise: Try to exercise 5 or more days each week. Lack of movement makes it hard for your body to process blood sugar and triglycerides as it normally does. So itâs important for you to get up and get moving more each day. Skip the escalator or elevator and climb stairs. Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk. Find activities you enjoy: Walk, swim, or ride a bike. Join a gym. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise plan.
Watch your weight: If youâre carrying extra pounds, losing 5% to 10% of your weight can lower triglycerides. People with a healthy weight are more likely to have normal levels. Belly fat is associated with higher numbers.
Eat less bad fat and carbs: Try to lower the saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in your diet. Cutting back on carbohydrates will help, too. Foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, boost levels. Butter and cheese contain these same triglyceride-boosting fats. Choose lean meats or protein alternatives, such as chicken and unprocessed turkey, that are lower in saturated fat.
Another healthy option: Make meatless meals. Vegetarian pastas, chilis, and stir-fries are a delicious alternative to meat dishes. Avoid dishes loaded with cream or cheese in favor of recipes that use vegetable or olive oil and feature plenty of vegetables.
Inflammation Infection And Autoimmunity
In some cases, high triglycerides may be caused by inflammation and infection.
People with infections and chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis often have high triglycerides and low HDL. These disease-triggered changes initially serve to dampen inflammation or fight infection, but they increase the risk of heart disease in the long run .
For example, untreated gum disease increases blood triglycerides. People with chronic gum inflammation are continually exposed to bacteria, which disrupt immune and lipid balance in the body .
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