What Are Triglycerides And What Raises Them
Everyone consumes triglycerides as part of their diet. They circulate in your bloodstream, similar to cholesterol, and pair with proteins to form lipoproteins.
These lipoproteins carry triglycerides to your tissues, where they are either used for energy straight away or stored as fat for later.
Triglyceride levels can be measured by a simple blood test. According to the American Heart Association , fasting levels those taken when you havent eaten should be below 150 mg/dl and post-meal levels below 200 mg/dl .
Many lifestyle factors can raise your fasting triglyceride levels, such as a diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, a lack of physical activity, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking. Pregnancy and menopause can also have an effect.
Postprandial lipaemia is the scientific name for the rise in triglycerides that happens after eating. The peak in triglyceride levels is around 45 hours after eating, and the level should return to baseline around 8 hours after eating.
Measuring triglyceride levels within a 4-hour period after a meal is a strong predictor of your risk of heart disease, even if your fasting triglycerides are within a healthy range.
That means post-meal triglycerides can act as an early warning system for your risk of heart disease.
Your blood fat control indicates how well you can clear triglycerides from your blood in other words, how well youre able to handle high-fat foods.
Focus On Monounsaturated Fats
As opposed to saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least one double chemical bond that changes the way your body uses them. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.
Some recommend a low fat diet for weight loss, but research is mixed on its effectiveness in controlling blood cholesterol.
One research report acknowledged that lower fat intake is an effective way to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, researchers were concerned over potential negative effects of low fat diets, such as lowering HDL and increasing triglycerides .
In contrast, research has shown that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps reduce levels of harmful LDL and increase levels of healthy HDL .
Monounsaturated fats may also reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, according to research. Oxidized cholesterol can react with free radicals and contribute to clogged arteries. This can lead to atherosclerosis or heart disease .
Overall, monounsaturated fats are healthy because they decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation (
Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, canola oil, tree nuts, and avocados reduce LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.
Saturated And Trans Fats
Saturated fats can raise triglyceride levels. They can be found in fried foods, red meat, chicken skin, egg yolks, high-fat dairy, butter, lard, shortening, margarine, and fast food. Alternatives include:
- Lean proteins such as skinless white chicken meat and fish
- Low-fat dairy
- Pastries, pies, cookies, and cakes
Starchy foods can also raise triglycerides. Try to choose foods with 100% whole grains and opt for long-grain rice instead of instant rice. If possible, eat non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, instead of starchy ones like potatoes.
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How To Quickly Lower Your Triglycerides
You might be wondering what are triglycerides and how do I know if mine are too high?Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood that our bodies use for energy. Having a healthy number of triglycerides can be very beneficial in maintaining good health however, when your triglyceride levels get too high, your health may be at risk.
What kind of risk are we talking about?Your triglycerides are measured through simple blood testing. A count of 150 and lower has been commonly referred to as a normal level amount. If you fall in between 200 and 500, your levels are commonly referred to as high or very high. Its at this level that your body becomes more vulnerable to increased risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Regularly consuming more calories than you burn, consuming a lot of alcohol, and poorly-managed diabetes are a few of the causes of high triglyceride levels.
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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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Outcome Trials With Epa
JELIS was a prospective, randomized, open-label, blinded endpoint trial of 18,645 patients with elevated serum total cholesterol , but notably relatively normal triglyceride levels, treated with EPA 1.8 g or placebo daily in addition to statin therapy. Treatment with EPA was associated with a greater lowering of triglycerides and a 19% reduction in the composite primary endpoint of any major coronary event, including sudden cardiac death, fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction and nonfatal events, unstable angina pectoris, or need for coronary revascularization. Subsequent analyses revealed that EPA reduced cardiovascular events by 53% in patients with evidence of atherogenic dyslipidemia at baseline .71,72 Of particular interest, these findings were observed in a study performed exclusively in Japan, where the doses of background statin therapy were low, the dose of EPA was relatively modest, and general consumption of fish is higher. Accordingly, it is of interest to know whether similar findings could be observed in Western populations.
Why Do You Have High Triglycerides
However, one big problem arises if we live in westernized societies there is an over abundance of food at all time. If you are reading this right now, you probably live in an area where many different varieties of food are always available. In this kind of food environment, our emotional and instinctual desires override all logical sense, so most of us eat more calories and carbohydrates than we need.
In response to this influx in calories, the cells become stuffed with so much energy that they reject the signal to take more energy in that they receive from insulin . This is otherwise known as insulin resistance, and this causes a cascade of hormonal changes that increase blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
On top of that, carbohydrate consumption stimulates hepatic lipogenesis independent of insulin signaling.
What all of this means is that eating excess calories increases your chances of having high triglycerides levels and eating excess carbohydrates increases triglyceride levels, especially if those carbohydrates are coming from fructose and other processed sugars.
Hold on. What about the fat?
We are talking about triglycerides a type of fat. How could I talk about calories and carbohydrates and neglect to mention fat as a contributor to high triglyceride levels as well? Well, there is a good reason for that.
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Will A Keto Diet Lower Triglycerides And Cholesterol
No, keto diets have been shown to increase cholesterol levels. The Mediterranean diet, however, has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiac events.
The Mediterranean diet promotes eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats daily eating fish, poultry, beans, and eggs weekly reducing portions of dairy and limiting red meat.
What Is The Best Triglyceride Lowering Diet Low
Lets start by comparing two ends of the dietary spectrum Low-carb versus low-fat.
A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluated the effects that low-carb and low-fat diets had on triglyceride levels with conclusive results. Researchers found greater reductions in triglyceride levels on the low-carb diet.
In another study by Bonow and Eckel, the two scientists concluded that low-carb diets produced a more robust triglyceride-lowering effect than low-fat diets, even if there was a similar magnitude of weight loss after one year.
These studies confirm what we found above. Eat more carbohydrates and less fat, and youll increase your triglyceride levels. Eat fewer carbs and more fat, and the opposite will occur. In fact, researchers found that for every 5% decrease in total fat, triglyceride level was predicted to increase by 6% and HDL cholesterol to decrease by 2.2%.
However, there could be other variables at play in this case. When you reduce fat consumption, youll be more likely to eat processed carbohydrates, which limit fat burning and increase fat production. So, high triglycerides levels only have to do with increased processed sugar consumption, right? Not quite.
However, there is another diet that heralded more than the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for its health benefits. Could this diet be the perfect balance of carbs and fats? Or is the low-carbohydrate diet always better?
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Eat Less To Lose Weight
High triglycerides come from regularly eating more calories than your body burns, so eating less overall is one of the best ways to start reining them in.
How much less, exactly? You may want to cut back by 500 to 1,000 calories a day, depending on how many calories youre consuming. Thats enough to help you lose weight, which is key.
Dropping 5 to 10 percent of your body weight is enough to reduce your triglycerides significantly. But definitely get the OK from your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
Why Lowering Your Triglycerides Matter
Lower triglyceride levels are one of the many indicators for better health, while high triglycerides are associated with several health conditions, including the following:
It may be worrisome at first because of all issues that are associated with high triglyceride levels, but it is nothing to go to the hospital over. As with other biomarkers, your blood triglyceride results should only be interpreted along with a multitude of other validated measures for an accurate assessment of your overall health.
Our triglyceride levels do, however, provide us with important clues. The relatively strong association between triglycerides, blood sugar, cholesterol, and many of the conditions listed above give us a clearer picture of what causes high triglyceride levels and how to optimize them.
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How Does Diet Affect Cholesterol Levels
Your cholesterol level has a lot to do with what foods you choose to put on your plate.
In the United States, Cardiovascular Disease is one of the leading causes of poor health, sometimes accompanied by death.
This happens to be directly associated with poor eating habits.
For instance, consuming too much fat can increase LDL cholesterol. Subsequently, elevating the risk of heart disease.
However, choosing a healthy diet reverses this process, giving you a clean bill on health.
And if these are not enough, there are other foods to sink your teeth into in order to balance your cholesterol level.
Here are some foods to increase HDL and decrease LDL levels.
Ways To Reduce Elevated Triglycerides
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Triglycerides And Your Heart
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the body. They can be found in your blood and organs, and are the main cause of bad cholesterol. Levels of triglycerides in the blood can be lowered with natural means. For example, drinking less sugar is a good way to reduce the amount of sugar in your body. Also, losing weight can reduce the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Other foods and supplements can be taken to lower triglycerides levels as well.
How The Ketogenic Diet Lowers Triglycerides
When carbohydrates are restricted, insulin levels drop, which increases the activity of lipases like triacylglycerol lipase and hormone sensitive lipase . These lipases help break down triglycerides for energy usage.
After the lipases do their job, the components of the triglycerides move out of the cells in different directions. Glycerol, the backbone of triglycerides, is taken to the liver for further breakdown or glucose synthesis . Free fatty acids, the other components of triglycerides, are carried in the blood to cells that further break them down for energy by a process called beta-oxidation. In the liver, the free fatty acids are converted into ketones, an organic compound that the brain and muscle can use as an alternative fuel source.
Without a lot of carbohydrates in the diet, the cells will start burning more fat and ketones for fuel, and the liver will be focused on forming sugar and ketones for energy rather than triglycerides for storage. As a result, triglyceride levels drop and blood sugar levels to normalize.
This process is the main reason why many meta analyses found that a decrease in carbohydrates leads to a decrease in triglycerides, and no other diet elicits these processes better than the ketogenic diet. However, there is another important mechanism that reduces triglycerides, which the Mediterranean diet takes advantage of the most.
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What Can You Do To Lower High Triglyceride Levels
Because your body can get triglycerides from the food you eat, it makes sense that changing your diet can help if you’re concerned with your triglyceride levels. In general, according to Ash, it’s important to reduce your intake of refined flour, processed and packaged foods that contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and excess carbs and sugars that are bad news for your health.
One key nutrient to keep in mind is fat. According to Ash, switching out the types of fat you eat can make a huge difference. “Trans fats and polyunsaturated fats, like the fat in canola oil, are going to be the biggest offenders because they burden the liver, which is going to manufacture more triglycerides in order to make more LDL. So what we’re eating and how we’re supporting the liver is really what’s going to matter when it comes to triglycerides,” she says.
That said, fat is only one factor to consider when it comes to food. “Specific to food, fat itself is often not the culprit,” says registered dietitian Amanda Archibald, founder of The Genomic Kitchen. “Excess calories from alcohol or starchy/sugary foods are often more complicit in producing high triglycerides.”
If your doctor has told you your triglyceride levels are on the high side, it’s worth asking them what foods to avoid and what lifestyle changes could help. Chances are, you’ll want to exercise more and go easy on trans fats and simple carbs.
How To Lower Cholesterol And Triglycerides
Triglycerides are a type of lipid, or fat, your body produces to store extra calories and provide energy. Cholesterol is another lipid that circulates in your blood. Your body uses cholesterol to build cells and produce hormones.
Both triglycerides and cholesterol are essential for your health but having levels that are too high puts your health at risk. Living a healthy lifestyle helps to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels within a normal range.
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images
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Avoid Refined And Processed Foods
You gain a large number of calories from foods that are rich in carbohydrates. However, the carbohydrates you get from refined and processed foods are unhealthy. It is because once consumed, they get easily converted into sugar and lead to a rise in triglyceride. Some common sources of processed foods include rice, pasta and white bread.
Eat Fatty Fish Twice Weekly
Fatty fish is well known for its benefits on heart health and ability to lower blood triglycerides.
This is mostly due to its content of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is considered essential, meaning you need to get it through your diet.
Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Heart Association recommend eating two servings of fatty fish per week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke .
Whats more, one study showed that eating salmon twice a week significantly decreased blood triglyceride concentration .
Salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, and mackerel are a few types of fish that are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating two servings per week may lower triglyceride levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
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