Limit Your Sugar Intake
Added sugar is a big part of many peoples diets.
While the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 100150 calories of added sugar per day, one study found that the average American eats about 308 calories of added sugar daily .
Added sugar is commonly found in sweets, soft drinks, and fruit juice.
Extra sugar in your diet may be turned into triglycerides, which can lead to an increase in blood triglyceride levels, along with other heart disease risk factors.
A 2020 review that included data on 6,730 people found that those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages regularly were over 50% more likely to have high triglycerides, compared with those who did not drink them regularly .
Another study found that consuming high amounts of added sugar is also associated with higher blood triglyceride levels in children .
Fortunately, several studies have shown that low carb diets can lead to a decrease in blood triglyceride levels .
Even a simple change such as replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water could decrease triglycerides in some people .
Minimizing added sugar in your diet from sugary beverages and sweets can reduce your blood triglyceride levels.
How Do Triglyceride Levels Compare With Cholesterol Levels
If you have high triglycerides, you are more likely to also have high total cholesterol and high bad cholesterol levels. Many people with high triglycerides also have low good cholesterol levels.
Both triglycerides and cholesterol are measured in mg/dL. However, the guidelines differ for what normal levels are for each of them.
Medications For High Triglycerides
If diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes are not sufficiently reducing your triglycerides or your doctor feels your numbers are too high to address the problem with lifestyle interventions alone, they may recommend medication. Some common drugs prescribed to lower triglycerides include:
Statins Statins are appropriate as a cornerstone treatment for moderate to severely high triglyceride levels, according to the AHA/ACC guideline. These prescription drugs help prevent cholesterol from forming in the liver, lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise HDL cholesterol, notes the AHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids These essential nutrients are found in fish, flaxseed, and other foods and in fish oil supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements . The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid , which is mainly found in plant oils, such as flaxseed and canola, and eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid , which are found in fish and other seafood.
According to the ODS, many studies have shown that eating fish and seafood rich in omega-3s may help you keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease. And boosting your EPA and DHA intake through foods and supplements can help lower your triglycerides.
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Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors
High triglyceride levels are associated with a collection of disorders known as metabolic syndrome. A person with metabolic syndrome has an increased risk of developing diabetes, stroke or heart disease.A person is classed as having metabolic syndrome when they have any three of the following factors:
- Central obesity excess fat in and around the stomach
- High blood pressure
- Higher than normal blood glucose levels
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High blood triglycerides.
Controlling High Triglycerides: Medical Treatment
People with heart disease and high triglycerides may need medication to bring down their levels.
- Fibrates can lower triglycerides. They modestly improve cholesterol levels, too.
- Fish oilwith omega-3 fatty acids can help keep triglycerides under control. Ask your doctor whether you should use prescription fish oil. Omega-3 acids from plant sources like flaxseed may help.
- Niacin can lower triglycerides by up to 50%. It’s available as a non-prescription supplement and as a prescription drug.
Remember that to stay healthy and keep your triglycerides down, you still have to focus on improving your lifestyle.
When you talk to your doctor, discuss all of the medicines, supplements, and vitamins you take. Some common drugs — like beta-blockers, birth control pills, and diuretics — can cause high triglycerides as a side effect. It’s possible that one of them could be causing your problem.
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Do Bananas Lower Triglycerides
The researchers also say that people with high triglycerides should focus on eating more vegetables fruits that are lower in fructose such as cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, bananas, peaches high-fiber whole grains and especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are found primarily in fatty fish such as salmon,
How Are High Triglycerides Treated
The best ways to lower triglycerides include losing weight, eating fewer calories, and exercising regularly . Diet changes that may help include avoiding fats and sugar and refined foods . Also avoid alcohol and limit fats found in meats high in saturated fat, egg yolks, and whole milk products. Trans fats, found in fried foods and commercial baked products, are unhealthy. Eat healthy monounsaturated fatsolive, peanut, and canola oils. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids instead of red meat.
If diet changes and exercise dont work, medicines such as nicotinic acid , fibrates , and omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides. Niacin side effects limit its use. Cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins can also lower triglycerides, but their effect is limited.
Its also important to control diabetes since a high sugar level will also increase triglycerides.
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How Your Healthcare Provider Can Help
Your healthcare provider can help you get your triglyceride levels under control by ruling out possible causes like medications, thyroid issues, unmanaged diabetes and liver or kidney disease. They can then formulate an effective management plan with you. This might include medication and lifestyle changes like losing weight and eating smaller portions.
As mentioned before, a healthy, fiber-rich diet can help in the matter. Exercising regularly can also play a huge part in managing triglyceride levels. By cleaning up your existing routine, you could see changes in your triglyceride levels within a few months.
This article was adapted from Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
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.
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Simple Carbohydrates And Sugar
A poor diet is by far the most common cause of high triglyceride levels, says Freeman. I consider high triglycerides as a marker that someone may not be eating as well as they should, he says. Excess calories and sugar are turned into triglycerides before being stored as fat, notes Cleveland Clinic.
A study published in May 2019 in the journal The BMJ found that consuming more than four servings of ultraprocessed foods per day increased the risk of mortality from all causes by 62 percent. These foods, which includes refined grains and added sugar, will also raise triglycerides, he says. Freeman advises his patients on how to transition to a low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet.
Be Careful With Pancake Toppings
Table sugar is not the only kind of sugar you need to be wary of when you have high triglycerides. Honey and maple syrup can increase your triglyceride levels, too. One tablespoon of honey has 64 calories and approximately 17 grams of sugar. One tablespoon of maple syrup contains 50 calories and approximately 13 grams of sugar. If you want to indulge in these sweeteners, use less of them or look for low-calorie or sugar-free maple syrup. Sugar comes in many forms. Read the labels and watch for brown sugar, corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, fructose sweetener, glucose, invert sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, turbinado sugar, and trehalose. They are also bad for your blood sugar.
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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.
High Triglycerides: Getting Help
When it comes to cholesterol and triglycerides, perhaps the most important thing is to get regular screenings.
See your doctor and get checked out. If your triglycerides are high, you and your doctor can decide on a treatment plan — and you can make a few simple but effective changes to your lifestyle.
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How To Prepare For The Test
You should not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Alcohol and some medicines can interfere with blood test results.
- Make sure your health care provider knows what medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
- Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
- DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.
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.
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How Quickly Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels may lower as quickly as a few weeks to a few months, depending on your treatment plan.
If your levels are very high, your healthcare provider may recommend taking medications at the start of your treatment plan. This may help lower your cholesterol levels more quickly. The sooner you can lower your bad cholesterol levels, the sooner you can lower your risk for plaques to form.
You can also lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes alone, but it may take three to six months to see results. Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
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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Foods To Avoid If You Have High Triglycerides
When you notice high triglycerides levels, watch your diet since foods high in triglycerides may make the condition worse. This may pave way for attack to your body, especially with heart related complications.
1. Avoid Starchy Foods
Starchy vegetables: Vegetables are generally good. However, some are starchy like mashed potatoes, beans, yams, peas and corn and thus should control their consumption. This way, your body will not have to convert excess starch into these triglycerides. Instead, eat kale, mushrooms and cauliflower.
Refined starch: Foods from refined flours also fall in the category of foods high in triglycerides. White bread made from refined floor does not have fiber needed to lower triglyceride levels in blood. Therefore, you should avoid foods made out of bleached, enriched and refined flours like pasta, bread, rice and crackers.
2. Reduce Saturated and Trans-Fats Intake
These are commonly found in pizza and animal foods. AHA recommends between 30-35% calories for your body and of these, saturated fats should not exceed 7%. Therefore, avoid or control eating chocolate, cheese, butter, pastries, poultry skin and fatty meats.
Trans-fats are in part hydrogenated oils used to make foods have more savory texture and taste and more non-perishable. Foods high in triglycerides lying in this category include fried foods like doughnuts, French fries, cookies, crackers and prepackaged baked foods like pie crusts and pizza.
3. Limit Sugars and Sugary Beverages
Skip The Cakes And Pastries
Baked goods may taste good, but they are loaded with sugar and saturated fat that can make triglyceride levels climb. Bake goods and pastries may also contain dangerous trans fats. These types of fats should be avoided in all amounts. Read nutrition labels before you indulge in baked goods. If you strive for weight loss, to reduce high cholesterol, and to modify other factors for cardiovascular disease, limit your consumption of baked goods. Eat high-fiber, whole grain foods instead of baked goods. Just be mindful to stay within the carbohydrate intake limit your doctor has established for you to reach your triglyceride goals.
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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.
How Often Should My Triglycerides Be Tested
If youâre a healthy adult, you should get a lipid profile every 4-6 years. Children should have it done at least once between the ages of 9 and 11, and one more time between 17 and 21. If youâre making changes to your diet or taking medication for high cholesterol or triglycerides, experts advise you to get a lipid profile afterward.
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Enjoy Some But Not Too Much Fruit
Fruit is part of a healthy diet, but too much fruit may hinder your ability to lower your triglycerides. Fruits contain varying amounts of fructose, a type of monosaccharide found in some foods. People who have high triglycerides should limit their intake of fructose to no more than 50 to 100 grams per day. Excess fructose increases triglycerides. Eat 2 to 3 servings of fruit per day. Dried fruits, like raisins, are high in fructose. Have no more than 2 tablespoons per day. Dates, raisins, figs, and dried apricots are high in fructose.
Increased Risk Of Pancreatitis
Severely elevated triglycerides is the third most common risk factor for pancreatitis but causes only around 4% of all cases. Gallstones and alcoholism are much more common, comprising approximately 70% of all cases.56
Individuals with triglycerides above 1,000 mg/dL have a 5% chance of developing pancreatitis, and that increases to 10 to 20% for levels above 2,000 mg/dL . For reference, the general population risk of pancreatitis is just 0.5%.57
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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.
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.
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