Triglycerides And Blood Sugar
Having high triglycerides could be a sign that youâre becoming insulin-resistant, which means your body isnât using insulin properly.
Untreated diabetes is a major health threat. To manage it well, you may need to track everything you eat, test your blood sugar, exercise, lose extra weight, take medication as directed, and keep up with your medical appointments.
Many people don’t know that they have diabetes. Your doctor should check on whether you do, and if so, help you get both your diabetes and your triglycerides under control.
Treatment For High Triglycerides
If lifestyle changes dont lower your triglycerides, talk to your doctor. You may need to take medications to lower your triglycerides. These medications include statins, fibrates, and prescription-dose omega-3 supplements.
Certain over-the-counter supplements may also reduce your triglycerides. These include omega-3 fish oil supplements and niacin.
Dont take OTC supplements without talking to your doctor first. High doses of omega-3s may interfere with blood clotting. Niacin can also interact with other medications you take, causing severe side effects.
For many people with high triglycerides, medication alone cant reduce triglycerides. Even with medication treatment, you still need to keep lifestyle changes in place.
When Should I Get My Triglyceride Levels Checked
If you are aged 45 years or older, you should have your cholesterol and triglycerides checked every 5 years. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people should start regular triglyceride checks from age 35.
The level of triglycerides in your blood is higher after you eat, so you will need to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
Talk to your doctor about your results and what to do if your levels are high.
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Causes Of High Triglycerides + Normal Levels
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Normal Cholesterol With High Triglycerides What Is That
When measuring total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein , high-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides are used in the measurement.
For adults, standard cholesterol levels are:
- Less than 200 mg/dL is desirable
- Between 200 – 239 mg/dL is considered borderline
- Over 240 mg/dL is considered high
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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.
What You Can Do
Many of the steps you should take to lower triglycerides are the same ones you should take to protect your heart and health overall.
If you’re overweight, shed a few pounds. Get regular aerobic exercise . Limit the saturated fats in meat and dairy products. Watch your alcohol intake, even moderate drinking ramps up triglyceride levels. And diet? High-carb/low-fat eating will increase your triglycerides and lower your HDL.
If you’re taking a statin to lower your LDL, one side benefit may be reduced triglyceride levels. Depending on the dose, statins can lower triglycerides by 20%40%.
The omega-3 fats in fish and capsules are another triglyceride-lowering option. For a very high triglyceride level, your doctor can prescribe a high-dose omega-3 medication.
Image: udra/Getty Images
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High Triglycerides Experts Say To Skip These Foods
Keeping triglycerides in a healthy range is important for maintaining a healthy heart. If a blood test has revealed you have high triglycerides, lowering that number becomes a priority. You may be able to bring down those fatty deposits in your blood through diet changes and healthy swaps.
âRead more:â Triglycerides: What You Need to Know
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.
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When And Why Triglyceride Levels Should Be Treated
Triglyceride levels are only part of the picture of cardiovascular disease risk, and whats normal can depend on your individual health factors. That said, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, triglyceride guidelines are defined as:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 150 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high: 500 mg/dL and above
If you are in a category above normal, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes and possibly discuss medications to normalize your levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides seem to create some increased levels of cardiovascular risk similar to LDL cholesterol, says Andrew Freeman, MD, a cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. Triglycerides can play a role in the development of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in arteries that restricts blood flow and is associated with coronary heart disease, angina, and peripheral artery disease, says the AHA.
According to Mayo Clinic, high triglycerides can often be a sign of other conditions that raise your cardiovascular disease risk, such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is defined as having at least three out of a group of conditions: excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, reduced HDL cholesterol, and, of course, high triglycerides. Extremely high triglycerides can lead to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas.
Baked Beans With Sugar Or Pork Added
Beans have fiber and other nutrients going for them. But if they’re made with sugar or pork, they may not be the best choice. The label on the can should say what’s in there, and how much sugar and fat you’re getting. Switch to black beans, which are a great source of fiber and protein, without saturated fats or added sugar.
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Medications May Be Needed For High Triglyceride Levels
Sometimes, healthy eating and regular exercise cant lower high triglyceride levels. This may be the case, for example, if you have familial hypertriglyceridemia or if you already have heart disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication such as fibrates or nicotinic acids. Drugs to help lower high blood cholesterol may also be prescribed, if necessary.Suggestions for managing high triglyceride levels with medication include:
- Always take prescription medications exactly as instructed.
- See your doctor if you are having side effects from the medication. Known medication side effects may include indigestion, diarrhoea, fever or muscle problems.
- Dont assume that medications will somehow overcome the hazards of an unhealthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining an appropriate weight for your height are the most important management strategies for high triglycerides.
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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How To Use Nicotinic Acid Capsule Extended Release
Take this medication by mouth with a low-fat meal or snack as directed by your doctor, usually 1-3 times daily. Taking niacin on an empty stomach increases side effects . Follow all directions on the product package. If your doctor has prescribed this medication, take it as directed. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Swallow extended-release capsules whole. Do not crush or chew extended-release capsules or tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split extended-release tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
To lessen the chance of side effects such as flushing, avoid alcohol, hot beverages, and eating spicy foods near the time you take niacin. Taking a plain aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug 30 minutes before taking niacin may help prevent flushing. Ask your doctor if this treatment is right for you.
If you also take certain other drugs to lower cholesterol , take niacin at least 4 to 6 hours before or after taking these medications. These products interact with niacin, preventing its full absorption. Continue to take other medications to lower your cholesterol as directed by your doctor.
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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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.
How Are Triglycerides Connected To Cholesterol
Cholesterol is another type of fatty substance. It has many uses in your body, including producing hormones, building cells and helping you digest food.
There are good and bad types of cholesterol. ‘Bad’ cholesterol is known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL. It can stick to the sides of your blood vessels and block them. ‘Good’ cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL. It transports the bad cholesterol away from your blood vessels to your liver, which gets rid of it.
If you have a high level of triglycerides together with a high LDL level or a low HDL level, you have a higher risk of fat building up and blocking your blood vessels. This increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
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High Triglyceride Diet Menu
To create a triglyceride-lowering meal plan, focus on a balance of healthy fats, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. “When it comes to fats, opt for unsaturated fats most of the time, such as those from nuts , seeds, avocado and olives,” advises Hill. “Not only do these foods provide the types of fats that support heart health, but they also contain fiber. Fiber can help balance blood sugar and keep triglycerides within a healthy range.”
Hill says that foods rich in heart-healthy carbohydrates include:
Increase Your Intake Of Unsaturated Fats
Studies show that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can reduce blood triglyceride levels, especially when theyre replacing carbs in your diet .
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils and fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
A 2019 review of 27 studies reported that while olive oil consumption does decrease triglycerides levels, it does so significantly less than other types of plant oil .
One older study analyzed the diets of 452 adults in a specific population of Indigenous people in Alaska over the previous 24 hours.
It found that saturated fat intake was associated with increased blood triglycerides, while polyunsaturated fat intake was associated with lower triglyceride levels .
To maximize the triglyceride-lowering benefits of unsaturated fats, pick a heart-healthy fat like olive oil and use it to replace other types of fat in your diet, such as trans fats or highly processed vegetable oils .
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can decrease blood triglyceride levels, especially when theyre consumed in place of other fats.
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Atherosclerosis And Cardiovascular Disease
Despite being called good cholesterol, research suggests that very high levels of HDL may increase your risk of mortality.
In a 2017 Danish study , researchers analyzed the rate of mortality in groups of 52,268 European men and 64,240 women over an average of 6.4 years.
The researchers found the lowest mortality rates at HDL levels of 73 mg/dL in men and 93 mg/dL in women. Mortality rates increased significantly with HDL levels above 97 mg/dL in men and 135 mg/dL in women.
How Are Triglycerides Different From Cholesterol
Triglycerides and cholesterol are both fatty substances called lipids. But triglycerides are fats cholesterol is not. Cholesterol is a waxy, odorless substance made by the liver. It is used to build cell walls, helps the nervous system and plays an important role in digestion and hormone production.
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Foods That Can Help With High Triglycerides
If your triglycerides are high, youve probably been told to lose weight and cut out sugar and/or carbs. Boo.
The conventional advice for this problem is so unhelpful! Weight loss from dietary change is almost always temporary. Our bodies fight to regain lost weight.
And focusing on what not to eat is a surefire way to crave it. It also leaves you with a vacuum when youre hungry. What can I eat?
I am not in the business of setting people up for failure.
So lets take a look at what you can add to the menu to address high triglycerides! Much of this will sound familiar, but well look at it through the triglyceride lens. But first, a bit of background.