Triglycerides are a kind of fat that travels in the blood. You may get some triglycerides from food, and some may be made by your body. Like cholesterol, triglycerides are necessary for life, but if they’re present at high levels, they can be bad for your health.
If you have high triglycerides, your cholesterol levels may be high too. This combination raises your risk of heart disease. Experts aren’t sure if high triglycerides alone are bad for your heart, but some studies suggest they are.
If your triglyceride levels are very high, you may also be at risk of harming your pancreas. Changes in lifestyle can lower triglycerides, and eating triglyceride-friendly meals and snacks could help too.
Are high triglycerides a common problem?
Experts recommend you keep your triglycerides below 150 milligrams per deciliter. About one-quarter of the people in the United States have high triglycerides. These numbers have declined since 2001, probably because more people take statin drugs and fewer people smoke cigarettes.
The U.S. FDA’s ban on trans fats in food could be another reason triglyceride levels have dropped among Americans. Trans fats increase the levels of not only LDL cholesterol — also called the “bad” cholesterol but also triglycerides.
Even though trans fats may be banned by the FDA, you should choose unsaturated fats over saturated ones.
Change your diet to reduce triglycerides
Follow these dietary guidelines to reduce your triglycerides:
- Choose unsaturated fats — Reduce your intake of saturated fats by eating less red meat and less full-fat dairy.
- Reduce total fat intake — Get no more than 30 percent of your calories from fat.
- Eat less sugar — Cut down on table sugar, syrup, sweets, and sugary drinks.
- Go for complex carbohydrates — Substitute whole grains for refined grains like white bread and white rice.
- Cut back on alcohol — If you drink, talk to your doctor about safe amounts.
Create triglyceride-friendly meals with these foods
Salmon and other fatty fish
Experts agree that some of the best triglyceride-friendly meals include salmon — which is high in omega-3 fatty acids that help you lower triglycerides. You can also try other fatty fish like albacore tuna, sardines, and herring.
The American Heart Association — or AHA — recommends two servings of fish per week. The AHA warns against certain fish, like sharks, swordfish, and king mackerel, because they may contain mercury.
Soy foods containing isoflavones can reduce triglycerides. Isoflavones are plant hormones similar to estrogen.
In one analysis of 23 studies, soy foods containing isoflavones were found to significantly lower both cholesterol and triglycerides. Soy comes in many forms, including tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk, and textured soy protein.
You may worry that the isoflavones in soy will act like estrogen in the body. Recent studies have shown that most people can safely eat soy several times a week.
Check with your doctor if you aren’t sure if you should be eating soy.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are great additions to triglyceride-friendly meals. The best choices are dark greens like chard, spinach, arugula, and kale.
To add these vegetables to your daily diet, you can try:
- Simmering them in soups
- Using them in a stir-fry
- Adding them to salads
- Including them in omelets
- Including them in wraps and sandwiches
Greens contain vitamins and minerals, and they are high in fiber. Getting more fiber in your diet has many benefits.
In one study, increasing fiber lowered triglycerides and other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Tree nuts are nutritious and can significantly lower triglycerides. Try pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamias, and hazelnuts. The suggested serving for tree nuts is 50 grams or about one-fourth of a cup.
Nuts are often eaten as a snack, but they are high in calories. But, you may eat too many while snacking.
Instead, use them in side dishes and entrees. Try these ideas:
- Toss them into your cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt at breakfast
- Add them to a salad to make a satisfying lunch
- Add them to a healthy grain like quinoa
- Mix them with vegetables and legumes for a healthy meatless meal
Next steps toward lowering triglycerides
Changing the foods you eat may not lower your triglycerides without other lifestyle changes. You may need to:
Some medications can reduce triglycerides. But lowering these via lifestyle changes is better because it can have improved health effects overall.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Heart Association: “Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” “Triglycerides: Frequently Asked Questions.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein containing isoflavones on the lipid profile.”
Annual Review of Nutrition: “Trans fatty acids and their effects on lipoproteins in humans.”
BMJ Open: “Effect of tree nuts on metabolic syndrome criteria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Trends in Elevated Triglyceride in Adults: United States, 2001–2012.”
Current Developments in Nutrition: “Dietary Fiber Is Independently Related to Blood Triglycerides Among Adults with Overweight and Obesity.”
As with high cholesterol, elevated levels of triglycerides can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. But making some lifestyle tweaks can help you lower your triglycerides naturally. Here’s how.
Triglycerides, which are found in your blood, are the most common type of fat in your body. They come from the foods you eat, especially fatty foods such as oils and butter, and from extra calories: When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t use right away into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells. The problem? If you regularly eat more calories than you use, especially from high-carbohydrate foods, you can develop high triglycerides, or hypertriglyceridemia. Other factors that can contribute to hypertriglyceridemia include smoking, excessive use of alcohol, and having poorly controlled diabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Along with cholesterol, high triglyceride levels are linked to heart disease and other health issues related to cardiovascular disease. The U.S. Library of Medicine notes that triglyceride levels higher than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, which can include excessive abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugar. And according to Mayo Clinic, elevated triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the artery walls, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Clearly, elevated triglycerides is an important health issue, and managing your levels is a key component of preventing heart disease. According to a study published in January 2020 in the European Heart Journal, the first important step for treating high triglycerides should be lifestyle changes — and then, if necessary, medication. Read on for simple ways to keep your triglyceride levels in check.
1. Avoid excess sugar.
Simple sugars, from table sugar and sweets, have little nutritional value, increase your triglyceride levels, and add empty calories to your diet. Even people who don’t have hypertriglyceridemia experience a spike in triglycerides when they eat or drink too many simple sugars, such as alcohol, refined grains, and added sugar, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). You can lower your triglycerides by limiting candy, sweetened drinks, cookies, and pastries. As an added bonus, avoiding high-fat items will also help lower your cholesterol naturally.
2. Resist refined foods.
Carbohydrates come from plant foods and make up the main source of energy in most people’s diets. The carbohydrates you get from processed foods, such as white bread, rice, and pasta, have been treated to remove their outer grain. These “white foods” get converted to sugar more easily, according to the AHA. By choosing whole-grain foods over processed foods, you can help lower your triglyceride levels. Examples of whole-grain foods include whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain cereal. A good general tip: To help lower your triglycerides, avoid foods that have the word “bleached” in the first ingredient.
3. Add more fiber to your diet.
Fiber is the part of your food that isn’t digested, and it’s important because it helps you feel full. According to a study published in February 2019 in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition, dietary fiber can reduce the risk of high triglycerides in young to middle-aged adults who are overweight or obese. “In general, fiber-rich foods also have carbohydrate content that is more complex and can lead to more gradual absorption by the body, which can also help temper the triglyceride increase that occurs after meals,” says Michael Wesley Milks, MD, a cardiologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Fiber is found in whole grains and nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.
4. Choose healthy fats over saturated fats.
Another way to lower triglycerides and cholesterol naturally is by eating healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol by increasing fat metabolism, according to the AHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish, such as salmon and herring, olive oil, and dietary supplements. For people with high triglycerides, the AHA recommends prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acid supplements at a dose of 4 grams per day, although it’s still best to get it from foods. Saturated fats, which come mainly from meat sources, should be limited to no more than 5 to 6 percent of your total daily calories, and your daily intake of cholesterol should be no more than 300 mg, according to the AHA.
5. Know the dangers of trans fats.
Trans fats are dangerous for your heart, because they raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The chief culprit you’ll 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.
6. Cut back on alcohol.
While you may not need to abstain from alcohol altogether, moderation is key. “Avoidance of excessive alcohol consumption is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Milks. Alcohol is high in the type of carbohydrate your body converts to triglycerides. It may also affect your liver, which can interfere with your ability to metabolize fat, according to the AHA. Even moderate drinking — generally, one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men — can significantly elevate your triglyceride levels. “Beer or mixed drinks with a sugar-sweetened component can be particularly carbohydrate rich,” Milks adds. Ask your doctor what a safe limit of alcohol is for you to lower your triglycerides.
Regular exercise is important for everyone but especially for someone with high triglycerides. Exercise increases your body’s ability to metabolize sugar, which lowers the amount of sugar in your blood and decreases the amount of sugar your body converts to triglycerides. A study published in December 2018 in the journal Clinical Cardiology found that moderate aerobic exercise significantly helped lower triglycerides in people with heart disease. The AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
8. Control your weight.
Being overweight decreases your ability to metabolize sugar and other carbohydrates, which leads to high triglycerides. To maintain a healthy weight and lower triglycerides, you need to take in healthy calories and eliminate excess calories, according to Milks. That means balancing your activity level and calorie intake until you are burning as many calories as you are taking in. A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle are your best defenses against high triglyceride levels.
Elizabeth Woolley is a patient advocate and writer who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Yasmine S. Ali, MD, MSCI, is a board-certified preventive cardiologist and lipidologist. Dr. Ali is also an award-winning writer.
Triglycerides , a fat in the blood, can be a contributing factor to several health issues and concerns. High levels of triglycerides can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and the complications of diabetes.
According to research, diet and exercise can help bring down high levels of triglycerides. It can also be helpful to limit alcohol intake, manage diabetes, decrease smoking, and avoid foods that raise triglycerides.
This article gives an overview of triglycerides and their effects on health. It also offers examples of foods that are good and bad for triglyceride levels.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of lipid, otherwise known as a fat. These fats move through the blood and are either used as energy or stored. If they are stored, hormones can trigger their release if they are needed for energy later.
What Causes Triglycerides to Go Up Quickly?
Triglycerides can go up quickly:
- When you eat too much food
- When you eat high-fat foods
- When you eat foods high in simple carbohydrates
Triglycerides go up if there is extra energy that isn’t immediately used. This extra energy is stored as body fat.
High triglyceride levels may also run in your family. While dietary changes may help lower them a bit, you may also want to speak with your doctor about whether you need to take medication as well.
What Foods and Drinks Cause High Triglycerides?
Sugary food and drinks, saturated fats, refined grains, alcohol, and high-calorie foods can all lead to high levels of triglycerides.
Verywell / Tim Liedtke
Simple sugars, like fructose, are a common source of elevated triglycerides. Eating too much sugar may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is when your body can’t use the hormone insulin effectively to turn sugar into energy. It can cause blood sugars to increase and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Sugary foods and drinks that can lead to high levels of triglycerides include:
- Fresh and canned fruit
- Ice cream and sweetened yogurt
- Sweetened drinks like juices
- Jams and jellies
- Milkshakes and smoothies
- Foods and drinks with corn syrup, honey, sucrose, glucose, fructose, and maltose listed as the first ingredient
Fruit can be a healthy food choice, as it contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. However, if you have high triglycerides, you may want to limit your daily fruit intake. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian if you have questions about which fruit choices are best.
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
- Egg whites
- Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil
Trans fats are hydrogenated fats that can be found in some packaged and fried foods. Trans fats have been banned, with exceptions, from the food supply in the U.S.
Saturated and trans fats can raise triglyceride levels and should be limited or avoided if possible.
Refined Grains and Starchy Foods
Refined or processed grains are typically made from white flour, which can increase triglycerides. They also often have added sugars. If possible, try to limit:
- Enriched or bleached white bread, wheat bread, or pasta
- Sugary cereals
- Instant rice
- 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.
Alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride levels. Decreasing your alcohol intake can help lower these levels. If you or a loved one need additional help decreasing alcohol consumption, reach out to your doctor.
Be mindful of your intake of high-calorie foods if you are trying to lower your triglyceride levels. As some high-calorie foods are nutrient-rich, like nuts and avocados, consider checking in with your doctor for additional guidance.
Foods That Can Lower Triglycerides
Some studies suggest that essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can help lower triglyceride levels.
This type of fat is found in:
- Flax seeds
- Canola oil
Fish oil or omega-3 supplements may be a helpful addition to your diet. However, before taking supplements, you should speak with your healthcare provider.
Also make sure to eat plenty of vegetables, which help lower triglycerides in part because they don’t contain a lot of calories, sugars, or bad fats. Certain vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid that may lower triglycerides.
Also, choose foods made with soy, which is a healthy source of protein. Some research suggests that regular soy protein consumption can lower triglycerides.
Adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may help lower triglyceride levels. If possible, aim to eat wild-caught fatty fish at least twice a week. You should also try to get three to five servings of veggies daily, particularly non-starchy ones.
High triglyceride levels can lead to health concerns. Foods and beverages high in triglycerides include sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, starchy foods, foods with saturated fats, high-calorie foods, and refined grains.
Diet and exercise can help lower triglyceride levels. Foods that may help decrease triglyceride levels include fatty fish, green veggies, flax seeds, canola oil, and soy-based products.
Consider speaking with your doctor if you would like additional help lowering your triglyceride levels, or if you are thinking about taking an omega-3 or fish oil supplement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your healthcare provider may suggest taking omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Another option may be a prescription form of niacin, a B vitamin, which can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL levels. Always check with your healthcare provider before using a supplement.
It varies, but it may take a few months with diet and exercise changes. Research has found that a weight loss of 5% to 10% can lower triglycerides by 20%.
Triglycerides (TGs) are the fats in your bloodstream. When they are too high, there is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, diabetes, and pancreatitis.
Triglycerides are considered to be elevated when they are greater than 150 mg/dl, taken after an 8-10 hour fast.
What causes high Triglycerides?
Health Conditions: overweight/obesity, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
Medications: tamoxifen, beta blockers, steroids, diuretics, birth control pills
Ways to lower Triglycerides
Decrease or eliminate sweets:
Candy, cookies, pies, pastries, ice cream, frozen yogurt, puddings, fat free desserts (these often tend to be very high in sugar), fruit juice, other sweet beverages, such as soda, sweetened iced tea, iced coffee beverages, lemonade, fruit punch, sports drinks, energy drinks. Also limit added sugar of any kind, syrup, and honey.
Decrease or eliminate alcohol, and quit smoking if you smoke.
Decrease refined carbohydrates:
White bread, bagels, pita, etc, white rice, white pasta, white flour in any product, pretzels, rice cakes, ready-to-eat cereals made with white flour.
- INSTEAD: use whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta, and increase fiber intake.
- Old fashioned or steel cut oats are great choices, as are brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, amaranth, and other whole grains.
- Choose legumes often – chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc.
- Note: eating too much of any high-carbohydrate food will contribute to high triglycerides
Choose foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated fats (good fats):
- Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout, bluefish, herring, swordfish. Eat at least 2 servings per week; limit albacore tuna and swordfish.
- Flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed (keep refrigerated), walnuts, soy products such as tofu and soy milk, dark leafy greens
- Other nuts and seeds are also good –almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc.
Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if needed.
- You may be surprised that even a modest weight loss (10-15 lbs) can greatly reduce your TGs, cholesterol, and heart disease risk.
Choose plenty of deeply colored fruits and vegetables every day , for fiber and beneficial phytochemicals that reduce disease risk – examples include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, red peppers, berries, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc. There are so many – choose the produce you like, and have plenty!
Avoid trans-fatty acids in processed foods (check ingredients and AVOID partially hydrogenated oils)
Limit saturated fats (butter, beef, pork, lamb, fried foods, poultry skin, cream, whole and 2% milk and high fat dairy products)
Use olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, non-hydrogenated soft spreads
Exercise regularly: aim for 3 ½ hours per week – about 30 minutes per day, 7 days a week
Your doctor has told you to lower your triglycerides. Medicine and exercise can help, but changing your diet can be a good idea, too. If you want to lower your triglycerides without medicine, talk with your doctor so that you can work together and set goals.
Why It Is Important to Lower Your Triglycerides:
Triglycerides are a type of fat. They are in the food we eat. Our bodies can make triglycerides from sugars, too. Excess calories (those the body does not use right away) are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. When the body needs energy, it can break down these stored triglycerides.
High triglycerides make it easier for plaque to build up on blood vessel walls. This increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. High and normal levels are:
- Less than 150 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dl [1.7 mmol/L] = normal
- 150-199 mg/dl (1.7-2.2 mmol/L) = borderline high
- 200-499 mg/dl (2.3-5.6 mmol/L) = high
- 500 mg/dl and above (5.7 mmol/L) = very high
Here’s How To Do It:
If your triglyceride level is high, these steps may help you bring it down:
Eat a Balance Diet
Balance fats in your diet. All heart-healthy diets are low in saturated fat. Saturated fat is found in full-fat dairy products (whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream), meats, lard, fried foods, coconut palm, and palm kernel oils. They increase fats in the blood. Limit foods high in saturated fat or swap them for foods with healthier fats. It is important to eat less saturated fat, but do not cut back too much on total fat. You should get 25–35% of your total calories from fat.
Unsaturated fats are good for your heart in proper amounts. They can help lower your triglycerides if you eat them often and may also help avoid other chronic health problems. Many foods contain these healthy fats. They are found in canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, olives, and fatty fish. Fatty fish like mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, and salmon are good choices because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Try these tips to eat less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats:
- Order fish over beef when eating out.
- At the barbecue, go for grilled tuna steak instead of a hamburger or hot dog.
- Put lox (smoked salmon) on your bagel instead of butter.
- Cook with olive oil instead of butter.
- Put slices of avocado in your sandwich instead of cheese.
- Snack on nuts and dried fruit instead of potato chips.
Cut Down on Simple Carbohydrates (Sugar)
Too much sugar can raise your triglycerides. It can also lower HDL (“good) cholesterol. Limit sugary foods such as candy, soda, and sweets. Choose whole grain carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. To get started, slowly switch out simple carbohydrates like white bread or pastas with whole grain versions.
Lose Excess Weight
Often losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can help lower your triglycerides. To lose weight, cut down on excess calories from all sources, not just fat. Make sure your diet has plenty of fiber rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. A regular exercise program can also help you burn more calories.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol may raise triglycerides. Drink alcohol in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake is 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
The American Heart Association suggests being physically active for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If you are not active already, you can start with 10 minutes of moderate activity like walking, swimming, or yoga, and slowly increase your activity. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Exercise may help decrease triglycerides and improve overall heart health.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in foods and your body. The body takes the fat from the foods you eat and stores it as triglycerides in the fat cells. Your liver uses triglycerides to produce cholesterol. So, the more triglycerides you have, the higher is your cholesterol level.
The very low density lipoprotein (VLDL or bad cholesterol) in your blood is used to calculate your triglyceride levels. In short, the triglycerides form the bad cholesterol and you need to keep it low.
Keep your triglycerides below 150mg /dL since that is considered to be the normal level. Borderline high triglycerides are from 150 to 199mg/dL and high is 200 to 500 mg/dL. Triglycerides are high risk above 500 mg/dL. Many experts feel triglycerides level below 200 mg/dL is just fine.
High triglyceride levels may up your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. So, lifestyle changes are a must if you want to lower your triglyceride levels.
One way to keep your triglycerides level in check is to burn more calories than you eat, that is to exercise.
Maintain your dietary intake of fat to 30 percent of the total calories. Choose a diet low in fats, specifically saturated fats. But, it is important to include good fats. Remember omega-3s?
“To decrease intake of saturated fat, the emphasis of your diet should be on consumption of vegetables, fruits, breads, cereals, rice, legumes, and pasta, skim milk and skim milk products, poultry, fish, and lean meat” as per the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The Program suggests consuming no more than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol a day.
Here’s a list of top foods that will help you lower Triglycerides-
1. Whole Grains
Whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, brown rice, basmati rice are foods high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. For example, a cup of cooked oatmeal provides 4g of fiber. Whole grains also provide some protein, and are generally low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat. Six or more servings per day are recommended.
2. Legumes and Peas
Dry beans and peas are good sources of plant protein and are fiber-rich. They should be substituted for foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat, but eat only 5 ounces (approx. 142g) per day of plant protein sources. Dry peas, beans, and legumes can be used in nutritious, tasty, lower fat entrees or accompaniments.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are major sources of vitamins C, E, and A, beta-carotene, other vitamins, fiber, and some minerals and help in lowering high cholesterol levels. The TLC diet recommends eating 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables a day to lower LDL cholesterol. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL. Similarly, vegetables are well endowed with fiber and nutrients such as lipoic acid and vitamins. Vegetables that can help lower triglyceride levels include potato, sweet potato, mushroom, tomato, broccoli, Brussels sprout, spinach, and many others.
Lower omega-6 / omega-3 ratio is desirable to reduce chronic diseases. Researchers have found that a ratio of 4 /1 was important in preventing cardiovascular disease. In order to attain this, you need to increase your omega-3 intake. Flaxseed is very rich in omega-3. This is evident from the fact that 2 tablespoons of flaxseed contain almost 133 percent of the daily requirement for omega-3. But, you have to grind the flaxseed to allow your body to absorb the omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is very high in fiber and helps reduce cholesterol.
5. Fatty Fish
Eating fatty fish is beneficial for your heart since these too are rich in omega-3. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings or 5 ounces of fish a week. Examples of fatty fish include salmon, halibut, lake trout, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Avoid frying them in saturated fats. It is best to consume them baked or grilled. Shellfish are low in saturated fat but vary in their cholesterol content. Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but of course, it can be eaten occasionally.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a low-triglyceride substitute for saturated fats. It comes as extra-virgin, virgin, or light (highly processed). Choose extra-virgin or virgin oils since they are less processed and thus have higher antioxidant content. One of the benefits of olive oil is that it lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol but keeps the HDL (good) cholesterol intact. However, olive oil too is high in calories, so don�t consume more than 2 tablespoons a day to keep your heart healthy and cholesterol levels low.
7. Egg Whites
Egg whites contain no cholesterol, and they can be eaten often. Replace whole eggs with egg whites or commercial egg substitutes or reduced-cholesterol egg products in your diet as whole eggs contain 215mg of cholesterol per egg. Limit egg yolks to two a week.
8. Lean Meat and Poultry
You can eat up to 5 ounces per day of lean meat and poultry. Remember to trim visible fats from the lean meats. Lean meat is rich in protein, contains a highly absorbable iron, and is a good source of zinc and vitamin B12. �Lean meat can contribute to the maintenance of iron stores in pre-menopausal women�, says the NIH. Chicken and turkey are good sources of lean protein and to some extent, iron. Removing the skin and underlying fat layers substantially reduces the fat content. Cook poultry in ways that minimize the addition of saturated fat.
9. Milk and Milk Products
Milk and milk products are important sources of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Fat-free milk and other fat-free or low-fat (1 percent fat) dairy products provide as much or more calcium and protein than whole milk dairy products, with little or no saturated fat. Fat-free milk or 1-percent-fat milk, fat-free or low-fat cheese, 1 percent fat cottage cheese, and fat-free or low-fat yogurt are good choices, according to the TLC diet.
10. Tree Nuts
Tree nuts such as walnut, almond, hazel nut, pine nut, pistachio, and host of other nuts help reduce cholesterol and are heart healthy. Nuts are high in calories, so restrict yourself to about 42g of nuts a day.
Incidentally, all these foods are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Eat these foods, exercise regularly, quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption and watch your high triglyceride levels coming down.
Triglycerides are a type of blood fat. They are our main source of energy and are essential for good health. But if you have too much in your blood, this can raise the risk of heart disease.
High triglycerides are known to contribute to the risk of heart disease and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels, and very high triglyceride levels can cause serious medical conditions such as pancreatitis.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a combination of:
- three fatty acids (i.e. saturated fat, unsaturated fat or both – these are the building blocks of fats)
- glycerol, a form of glucose (a simple sugar).
Triglycerides are our main source of energy and, as they are so important, we have two supplies: one from our diet and one made by the liver.
How do triglycerides get into the blood?
When we eat foods containing triglycerides, such as meat, dairy products, cooking oils and fats, they are absorbed by our intestines and packaged into parcels of fats and protein called chylomicrons (a type of lipoprotein). These carry the triglycerides in the blood stream to our tissues to be used for energy straight away, or stored for later.
The body also makes its own supply of triglycerides in the liver. This form is carried in a different type of lipoprotein known as VLDL cholesterol.
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 (where you fast for a period of time before your 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 (usually for 10-14 hours) 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.
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 (genetic) conditions which cause raised triglyceride levels.
, where trigylcerides are raised , where both triglycerides and cholesterol are raised , where both triglycerides and cholesterol are raised , a rarer condition where triglyceride levels are extremely high.
Secondary causes of raised triglycerides
‘Secondary’ refers to the many other things that can influence triglyceride levels, including diet and lifestyle, certain medical conditions and medications.
Lifestyle causes include:
- a sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity)
- an unhealthy diet, particularly diets high in saturated fats and added sugars
- alcohol – some people may be very sensitive even to small amounts of alcohol, and these can significantly raise their triglyceride levels.
Medical conditions include:
- kidney disease
- non alcoholic fatty liver disease
- an under-active thyroid.
- Some diuretics
- oral (tablets) oestrogen therapy
High triglycerides and low HDL – an unhealthy pattern of blood fats
People with high triglyceride levels often have low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) as well. This is an unhealthy combination of blood fats that’s often linked with premature heart disease.
It can be inherited, and often occurs in people who:
- are very overweight, especially if they carry their weight around their middle
- have Type 2 diabetes
- have metabolic syndrome.
People with Type 2 diabetes usually have high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) as well. This type of cholesterol is ‘atherogenic’, meaning it clogs up the arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
Lowering your triglycerides
As with many conditions that raise blood fats, diet and lifestyle changes are the cornerstones of treatment. Triglycerides tend to be very responsive to changes in diet and lifestyle.
Reach and maintain a healthy body weight
Regular exercise and losing weight if you need to can often lower triglyceride levels significantly.
Eat a healthy diet
- Cut down on saturated fats and replace these with unsaturated fats such as oily fish.
- Cut down on added sugars in food and drinks , if at all.
If changes to your lifestyle don’t lower your triglyceride levels enough or you have been diagnosed with a genetic condition, then you may need medication.
Statins are usually the first line of treatment. Cholesterol specialists may also prescribe medications such as fibrates and omega 3 acid ethyl esters.
Foods that make up a low cholesterol diet can help reduce high levels
Changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream. Adding foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis, is the best way to achieve a low cholesterol diet.
Add these foods to lower LDL cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats. An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
5. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
9. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
10. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
11. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.
Putting together a low cholesterol diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and fat cells. High triglyceride levels increase your risk for heart disease. Ideal blood levels for triglycerides are below 150 milligrams per deciliter. If your triglycerides are high, consuming small, frequent meals without skipping meals may help lower your triglycerides, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Benefits of Small Meals
Overweight and obesity are risk factors for high triglyceride levels. Eating small, frequent meals instead of infrequent, larger meals can prevent you from overeating, help control your calorie intake and keep you at a healthy body weight. MayoClinic.com reports that if you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help reduce high triglyceride levels. Regular exercise also helps reduce high triglyceride levels, and eating small, frequent meals can keep your energy levels high before, during and after your workouts.
What to Eat
When trying to lower high triglyceride levels, what you eat is just as important as how much and when you eat. Whole grains and other high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are helpful for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides when consumed in place of refined grains, sugars and saturated fats. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, walnuts, flaxseed, soy products and canola oil can also help reduce high triglyceride levels. A study published in 2010 in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” found that during a 12-week weight-loss program, subjects who consumed pistachio nuts instead of pretzels for an afternoon snack had significantly lower triglyceride levels after just six weeks.
What to Limit
Avoid or limit refined grains, simple sugars, saturated fats and alcoholic beverages to help reduce high triglyceride levels, according to Cleveland Clinic. Examples of foods to limit include white bread, white rice, sweets, sugary drinks such as regular sodas or sweetened tea, table sugar, honey, syrups, ice cream, doughnuts, candies and pastries. Instead, choose sugar-free beverages and high-fiber grains such as whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, regular oatmeal, brown rice, bulgur and quinoa. Due to high cholesterol and saturated fat content, limit or avoid high-fat meats, regular cheeses, egg yolks, whole milk, butter and ice cream.
Consider Fish Oil
In addition to eating small, frequent meals, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and taking a fish oil supplement may help keep your triglyceride levels under control. MedlinePlus reports that taking a fish oil supplement containing 375 milligrams of DHA and 465 milligrams of EPA may help reduce high triglyceride levels by up to 50 percent. However, always talk with your doctor before taking any type of supplement.
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention
- MayoClinic.com: Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Pistachio Nuts Reduce Triglycerides and Body Weight by Comparison to Refined Carbohydrate Snack in Obese Subjects on a 12-Week Weight Loss Program
- MedlinePlus: Fish Oil
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.
Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them. This puts you at risk for coronary artery disease and other heart diseases.
Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. One type, LDL, is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. Another type, HDL, is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Then your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.
What are the treatments for high cholesterol?
The treatments for high cholesterol are heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines. The lifestyle changes include healthy eating, weight management, and regular physical activity.
How can I lower cholesterol with diet?
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day||Total Fat||Saturated Fat|
|1,500||42-58 grams||10 grams|
|2,000||56-78 grams||13 grams|
|2,500||69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat; it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL (good cholesterol). Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include:
- Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes
- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber.
Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids won’t lower your LDL level, but they may help raise your HDL level. They may also protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce your risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish two times a week.
Limit salt. You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon of salt) a day. That includes all the sodium you eat, whether it was added in cooking or at the table, or already present in food products. Limiting salt won’t lower your cholesterol, but it can lower your risk of heart diseases by helping to lower your blood pressure. You can reduce your sodium by instead choosing low-salt and “no added salt” foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL level. Too much alcohol can also increase your risk of heart diseases because it can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride level. One drink is a glass of wine, beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, and the recommendation is that:
- Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day
- Women should have no more than one drink containing alcohol a day
Nutrition labels can help you figure out how much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and sodium is in the foods that you buy.
High triglycerides diet is required food items lower the levels of excessive triglycerides, a type of fat, in the body. After eating, the body converts the calories that it doesn’t need into triglycerides and stores them as a future energy source. Triglycerides are integral to a body’s proper functioning, however, excessive amounts of them can make one more prone to the risk of heart diseases.
- Limit your sugar intake – Extra sugar gets converted into triglycerides and gets stored in the fat cells increasing the scope of heart diseases. Therefore, minimizing sugar consumption by avoiding fruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages and soda and instead replacing them with water is known to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood.
- Reduce saturated and trans fats – Saturated and trans fat is the fat commonly found in fast foods, processed foods, packaged foods, and baked foods to increase their shelf life. Avoiding the consumption of the aforementioned categories of foods and replacing them with mono and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados and nuts, can significantly lower high triglycerides levels in the body and reduce the chances of heart diseases.
- High fibre diet – Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Other healthy sources of fibre include nuts, cereals and pulses. A high fibre diet plan helps in decreasing the absorption of fat and sugar in the small intestine thereby reducing triglyceride levels.
You can follow this diet meal plan to manage triglycerides, check out the list of foods that lower triglycerides. This 7-day diet plan helps to lower triglyceride level, and food items mentioned in the diet chart, easily available in your local markets. We also listed out some food items that need to be avoided with high triglyceride level.
This Indian diet plan to control triglycerides created after consultation with experienced dietitations. Along with the list of food items you need some changes in your lifestyle which are also mentioned in this diet plan and helpful in controlling it.
Best Diet Plan to Lower Triglycerides
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||Basan cheela 2+ 1 tbs green chutney + 1 cup skim milk|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 cup boilled channa salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||1/2 cup rice+ 2 chapatti + Soya chunk curry 1/2 cup+ Ladies finger subji 1/2 cup + salad|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup papaya|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti / chappathi.+ mattar paneer subji 1/2 cup.|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||Mix veg Upma 1 cup+ 1 skim milk|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 cup mixed fruit salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||3 Chappati+ 1/2 cup cluster beans subji+ Fish curry(100g fish) 1/2 cup + salad|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup tea/ coffee + 2 biscuits ( Nutrichoice or Digestive or Oatmeal.)|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti / chappathi+Ridge guard subji 1/2 cup.|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||Vegetable Oats Upma 1 cup+ 1 cup skim milk.|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 sliced cucumber and carrot salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||1/2 cup rice + 2 chapatti+1/2 cup Kidney beans curry+ Snake guard subji 1/2 cup + salad|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup moong dal sprouts salad + 1 cup lemon water|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti/ chapati+ 1/2 cup mix veg curry|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||1 Slice toasted brown bread + 2 Boiled egg white + 1 cup low fat milk.|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 cup moong dal sprout salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||Veg pulav rice with soy chunks 1 cup+ 1/2 cup tomato curry + 1 cup Low fat curd + salad|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup watermelon|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 roti/ Chapathi+ Ladies finger subji 1/2 cup.|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||3 Idli + Sambhar 1 cup + 1 table spoon Green chutney/ Tomato Chutney|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 sliced cucumber and carrot salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||3 Roti+1/2 cup salad + Fish curry ( 100 gm fish)+ green chutney|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup tea/ coffee + 2 biscuits ( Nutrichoice or Digestive or Oatmeal.)|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti / chappathi.+ Tomato subji 1/2 cup.|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||2 paneer stuffed chapatti + 1 cup low fat milk|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 cup mixed fruit salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||1/2 cup rice+ 2 chapatti + 1 cup Dal+ Palak subji 1/2 cup+ salad|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup moong dal sprouts salad + 1 cup lemon water|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti / chappathi.+ paneer stuffed capsicum subji 1/2 cup.|
|Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)||Methi Paratha 2+ 1 cup low fat milk|
|Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)||1 cup boilled channa salad|
|Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)||1 cup rice+ chicken curry 200 gm chicken+ 1 cup cucumber salad.|
|Evening (4:00-4:30PM)||1 cup mixed fruit salad|
|Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)||2 Roti / chappathi.+ lotus stem subji 1/2 cup.|
Triglyceride Diet Restrictions: Food Items To Limit
Since, the amount of fat molecules in blood is elevated in this situated fat intake should be restricted. Minimal use of cooking oil should be encouraged. Use of vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil is adviceable.
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Adopting healthy habits, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping active, can also help prevent your cholesterol levels becoming high in the first place.
It’s important to keep your cholesterol in check because high cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, talk to your GP. If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.
If your GP has advised you to change your diet to reduce your blood cholesterol, you should cut down on saturated fat and eat more fibre, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Fats and cholesterol
Saturated and unsaturated fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- butter, ghee and lard
- hard cheeses
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish – such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts – such as almonds and cashews
- seeds – such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads – such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
Trans fats can also raise cholesterol levels. Trans fats can be found naturally in small amounts in some foods, such as animal products, including meat, milk and dairy foods.
Artificial trans fats can be found in hydrogenated fat, so some processed foods, such as biscuits and cakes, can contain trans fats.
In the UK, manufacturers and most of the supermarkets have reduced the amount of trans fats in their products.
Most people in the UK do not eat a lot of trans fats, but you should keep checking food labels for hydrogenated fats or oils.
Reducing total fat
Reducing the total amount of fat in your diet can also help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Instead of roasting or frying, consider:
Choose lean cuts of meat and go for lower-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads, or eat a smaller amount of full-fat varieties.
Fibre and cholesterol
Eating plenty of fibre helps lower your risk of heart disease, and some high-fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.
Adults should aim for at least 30g of fibre a day.
Your diet should include a mix of sources of fibre, which include:
- wholemeal bread, bran and wholegrain cereals
- fruit and vegetables
- potatoes with their skins on
- oats and barley
- pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils
- nuts and seeds
Foods containing cholesterol
Some foods naturally contain cholesterol, called dietary cholesterol. Foods such as kidneys, eggs and prawns are higher in dietary cholesterol than other foods.
Dietary cholesterol has much less of an effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood than the amount of saturated fat you eat does.
If your GP has advised you to change your diet to reduce your blood cholesterol, the most important thing to do is to cut down on saturated fat.
It’s also a good idea to increase your intake of fruit, vegetables and fibre.
An active lifestyle can also help lower your cholesterol level. Activities can range from walking and cycling to more vigorous exercise, such as running and energetic dancing.
Doing 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week can improve your cholesterol levels.
Moderate aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.
One way to tell whether you’re exercising at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song.
If your doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol and you can lower it by changing your diet, there’s no need to buy special products to lower your cholesterol.
These products are not recommended by doctors and are no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
There are foods specially designed to lower your cholesterol, such as certain dairy spreads and yoghurts containing added ingredients called plant sterols and stanols.
There’s some evidence these ingredients may help reduce the cholesterol in your blood, but there’s no evidence they also reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
These products are designed for people who already have high cholesterol, but it’s not essential to eat plant sterols or stanols to help manage your cholesterol.
There may be other, simpler and less expensive changes you can make, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet and being more physically active.
There are some groups of people these products are not suitable for, including children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
If you do eat foods designed to lower your cholesterol, read the label carefully. These foods need to be eaten every day and in the right amount, as having too much could be harmful.
Statins are medicines that can help lower your cholesterol.
They’re usually offered to people who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or another cardiovascular disease, or whose personal or family medical history suggests they’re likely to develop it during the next 10 years.
For most other people, the first way to tackle high cholesterol is by making changes to your diet and getting more active.
If you have high cholesterol, you should talk to your GP about how you can lower it.
People who need statins can be prescribed them, and your GP can also advise you on healthy lifestyle changes.
Some pharmacies sell low-dose statins, which you can buy without a prescription, but they’re no substitute for lowering your cholesterol by eating a healthy, balanced diet and being active.
Speak to your pharmacist if you’re considering over-the-counter statins. If you have high cholesterol and need statins, your GP will prescribe them and monitor how well they’re working.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that comes from the foods you eat. If you eat lots of foods that have saturated fats like butter, refined flour or sugar, you may be consuming too many triglycerides. Fortunately, there are many foods that can help lower your triglycerides, too.
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Healthy Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides can be found in certain foods, such as butter and other fats. However, this doesn’t make them bad. Triglycerides are stored in your cells from calories your body doesn’t need to immediately use. They can be turned into energy whenever they’re needed. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter or less is perfectly normal. You only need to worry if your triglyceride levels are higher than that. Triglyceride levels are considered borderline high between 150 and 199 mg/dL, high between 200 and 499 mg/dL, and very high when they surpass 500 mg/dL. More than the normal amount of triglycerides can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and pancreatitis.
Foods to Lower Triglycerides
If you’re worried about your triglyceride levels, there are certain foods that can help.
- Nuts: A 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that nuts can reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
: Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in many marine animals and plants. These healthy fatty acids have a wide range of health benefits and have long been known to help decrease triglycerides.
- Soy: A 2004 study in the Journal of Atherosclerosis showed that soy protein can reduce triglycerides and cholesterol.
- Vinegar: A 2009 study in the Journal of Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry showed that consumption of vinegar can reduce triglycerides.
- Whole grain products: A 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases showed that replacing refined grain products with whole grain products like buckwheat can reduce triglycerides and improve insulin levels after meals.
In addition, you should consider eating and drinking less of the following:
- Alcohol, as alcohol can influence the amount of triglycerides that build up in your body.
- Fat, especially saturated fat. Limit your consumption of fats and replace high-fat foods, like whole milk dairy products, with low-fat alternatives. Replace fats like butter with healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, when cooking.
, which can be found in many food products, including sweetened yogurt, canned fruits and numerous beverages.
- Simple carbohydrates, like sugar, syrup and white flour. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grain products instead.
Other Ways to Lower Triglycerides
In addition to eating a healthy diet to lower your triglycerides, there are other ways to lower triglycerides. Make sure you maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Frequent physical activity can help your metabolism and improve the health of your organs, especially your heart. Don’t smoke, and make sure you always consume alcohol in moderation. As long as you limit your refined foods, saturated fats and sugar and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you should be well on your way to lowering your triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of fat, or lipid, found in your blood. Your body fat is made up of these cells, and when they are circulating in the blood it usually means that you have taken in more calories than the body can use at the moment, so your body converts them into little fat globes that can safely travel through the bloodstream to be stored as fat. Your body will pull these out when it needs energy between meals.
The condition of having high triglycerides is called Hypertriglyceridemia is common in the US, and usually comes from eating too many high-carbohydrate foods and being sedentary.
What causes high triglycerides?
What is the difference between high triglycerides and high cholesterol?
Triglycerides and cholesterol are different types of lipids in the bloodstream. And you can have high triglycerides without having high cholesterol. Both are types of fat but each of these lipids functions differently and too much of either can lead to different health conditions.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
- Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.
- Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.
Too much cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or so-called “bad” cholesterol, causes plaque to build up in the blood vessels, which act as tiny calcified deposits that lodge into the wall of the arteries and cause blockages that raise blood pressure and potentially cut off vital oxygen to the heart or brain, leading to heart attack or stroke.
High triglycerides cause hardening of the arteries and increase your risk of stroke or heart attack by making it harder for blood to flow through the stiff vessel walls, which in tandem with high cholesterol is a double health threat. High triglycerides can also lead to chronic inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis. But it is possible to have high triglycerides without high cholesterol, so these are considered separate conditions.
What are normal levels of healthy triglycerides?
How do you know if you have high triglycerides? Your doctor needs to take a blood test and look at what's called a lipid panel, which tells him or her which fats are circulating in your blood.
- Normal triglycerides: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood or mg/dL
- Borderline high triglycerides: 150–199 mg/dL
- Very high triglycerides: 500 or higher mg/dL
- High triglycerides: 200–499 mg/dL
Why should you care about triglycerides
High triglycerides can lead to conditions such as fat around the waist, and while no one wants belly fat, it is more of a symptom than a health problem in itself. Storing fat in your middle section is often a sign that there are other health conditions at work and together they can make it harder to lose weight, and elevate your risk for chronic illnesses.
Stubborn belly fat can be a precursor for diseases such as metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels. It can make it harder to lose weight as your insulin resistance goes up and your body stores calories as fat, rather than burning them.
High triglycerides can also be a sign of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormones
How to Lower Triglycerides
- Avoid refined carbs. Added sugar and simple carbohydrates, in snacks, processed foods, white bread, pasta or rice can increase triglycerides.
- Lose extra weight. Doctors advise patients that if they are overweight, losing unwanted pounds can help bring triglyceride levels down. When you eat more than your body needs the extra calories are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat.
- Avoid saturated fat. Avoid animal fat in red meat, dairy, and other forms of saturated fat that are also in coconut and palm oils.
- Choose Omega-3 fatty acids. Plant-based sources of omega-3s include chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, edamame, kidney beans, and Brussels sprouts.
- Limit alcohol intake. Because of its high sugar content, alcohol is to be avoided for anyone with high triglyceride levels or who is trying to bring them under control.
Best Foods to Eat to Lower Triglycerides
The good news: You can lower your triglycerides quickly through lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and eating fewer calories to lose weight. A diet that is free of added sugar and simple carbs, and that avoids all animal fat is the best way to start, according to experts.
In one randomized control study, green tea was found to lower blood lipids including triglycerides, in the lab. “Green tea catechins can significantly reduce the levels of plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol” the study found. Other than drinking green tea, here are foods that have been shown to lower your triglyceride levels, as long as you also reduce your calories and stay physically active.
What to eat to lower your triglycerides
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and arugula
- Vegetables such as zucchini, butternut squash, green beans, and eggplant
- Cruciferous vegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower
- Fruits, especially citrus, and berries fruits that are lower in fructose
- Low-fat or no-fat dairy alternatives such as almond or soy milk
- High-fiber whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, and brown rice
- Algal oil, made from certain marine algae that are high in omega-3s
According to cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn, paying attention to your triglycerides is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Author of The Plant-Based Solution, Kahn, a vegan for the past 40 years, is an advocate of avoiding animal products, exercising daily, and taking work breaks to march in place, move, or even consider investing in a standing treadmill desk.
Dr. Kahn's advice on triglycerides:
- “The importance of elevated triglycerides, or trigs as docs call them, has been debated back and forth for decades but they increasingly are known to promote heart disease when elevated (particularly when the HDL is low leading to a trig/HDL cholesterol ratio elevated above 3).
- “You can lower your trigs with green tea, more omega-3 foods like ground flax seeds, and more whole food plant meals low or absent added sugars.
- “Avoid any sweetened drinks and sweet alcoholic beverages.
- “Exercise, and shooting for an ideal weight and waistline finish the list of the hard work it takes to keep trigs low and healthy.”
Bottom Line: Know your triglycerides and keep them low with diet and exercise
We pay attention to cholesterol and blood pressure but triglycerides are an important health marker. High levels raise your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Use exercise and these foods to lower yours. Here's what to eat to keep your triglyceride levels healthy.
Triglycerides are the main form of fat in your body. It is normal that our blood contains some levels of triglycerides, as they are often the by-products of fat being broken down and digested after a meal. However, if you consume excess calories regardless from any source – carbohydrates, fats or protein – our body will transform these excess calories into triglycerides for storage as body fat. Yup! The beer belly and extra fat are indeed triglycerides! Therefore it is more common to see high triglyceride blood level in overweight or obese individuals.
- Desirable: < 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
- High: > 200 mg/dL (2.3 mmol/L)
- Very High: >500 mg/dL (5.7 mmol/L)
High triglyceride level is associated with increased risk of heart disease. For other cholesterol levels, check our Cholesterol Numbers Guide.
Why is it bad to have high triglyceride level?
High triglycerides contribute to hardening of blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The problem is, triglycerides cannot be lowered overnight, and are usually caused by multiple factors such as obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, or poorly-managed diabetes. The good news is, diet and healthy eating habits can aid lowering 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”. It’s at this level that your body becomes more vulnerable to increased risk of metabolic syndrome (combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, and high triglycerides) 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.
“How can I lower my levels and reduce my risk of heart disease?”
Here are a few ways that may QUICKLY lower your triglyceride levels:
1. Cut sweets from your diet – sugars are typically unneeded calories that are converted into triglycerides for storage in the body. Cutting down on sugars will have a direct effect on the number of triglycerides you consume daily.
2. Reduce your refined carbohydrates – simply eating whole grain carbs over white flour products could be very beneficial. Consuming less carbs while increasing the amount of protein you eat could help lower your blood sugar levels as proteins absorb into the bloodstream much slower than carbs do.
3. Consume plant-based foods – if you select the protein in your diet from plant-based sources (rather than red meat) you may find your cholesterol and triglyceride levels quickly decreasing.
If you are over the age of 18, have high triglyceride levels and feel like you’re out of options, a new 12-week research study at FMC Science may be an option for you. If you qualify for this study, all participants will be seen by a board certified physician; get paid for time & travel; all study medication, exams & tests will be paid at no cost to you-NO OUT OF POCKET COSTS! No insurance is required to participate! To learn more call FMC Science at 512-556-4130 or click below.
Regularly consuming foods that are high in sugary carbs may put you at risk of a heart attack or stroke
Ditch sugars in favor of high fiber foods. Brooke Cagle/Unsplash
Most of us can rattle off our blood pressure or cholesterol numbers. But do you know your triglycerides?
Triglycerides are the main form of fat found within foods and the human body. In fact, 95 percent of all fat, whether in our food or in our body, is in the form of a triglyceride. Having a high level of triglycerides in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. When we eat, calories we don’t use are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Regularly consuming foods that are high in sugary carbohydrates and fat may cause you to have high triglycerides, putting you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are different types of fat that circulate in the blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with potential energy while cholesterol is used to build cells and make bile, vitamin D and other hormones.
Normal levels of triglycerides
You can determine your triglyceride number by getting a blood test. Triglyceride numbers are usually checked at the same time as cholesterol, which is referred to as a blood lipid profile. There are four ranges for triglycerides:
- Normal: less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
- Borderline high: 150–199 mg/dl
- High: 200-499 mg/dl
- Very high: 500 mg/dl or above
- Reduce sugar intake. Having a sugar intake of more than 10 percent of calories daily can result in high triglyceride numbers. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than five percent of daily calories come from added sugar. For men, this means no more than 150 calories (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) and for women, no more than 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of sugar each day.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing five to 10 percent of your body weight can have a significant impact on lowering triglycerides—even by 20 percent.
- Increase fiber. Drastically reduce all refined, sugary foods—cookies, sugary beverages, ice cream, cake, pie and desserts—and replace them with high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
- Reduce fructose intake. Fructose, a type of sugar, leads to high triglycerides. The main source of fructose is high fructose corn syrup, which is in many of our processed foods and soft drinks. Even some “healthy” foods like raisins and dates are high in fructose. Choose fruits containing less fructose, such as peaches, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries and bananas.
- Follow a moderately low-fat diet. The American Heart Association recommends that about 25-35 percent of our total daily calories come from fat. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you should eat 600 calories from fat. Since fat has nine calories per gram, you should take in no more than 67 grams of fat per day. You can find the number of fat grams on packaged foods on the Nutrition Facts label.
- Choose healthy fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are both unhealthy fats. Saturated fats are found in red meat, butter, cheese, whole milk, coconut oil and palm oil. Trans fats are found in shortening and stick margarine. Replace unhealthy fats with both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Examples of polyunsaturated fat include safflower, corn and soybean oils. Examples of monounsaturated fats include canola and olive oils.
- Add omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, lake trout and sardines are brimming with omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming fatty fish twice a week is recommended. If you don’t like fish, you can take fish oil supplements. However, be sure to consult your doctor because too much omega-3 can interfere with your blood’s ability to clot.
- Limit alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol can increase triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends that those with very high triglycerides avoid alcohol completely.
- Exercise more. All of us should exercise, but this is especially important for people with high triglycerides. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week can lower triglycerides.
- Triglyceride lowering medications. People with very high triglycerides may take—at the recommendation of their doctor—medication to lower their triglycerides. This might include taking fibric acid derivatives, niacin, omega-3 fatty acids or statins.
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Triglycerides are a type of fat-like substance in the blood that the body uses for energy. Some triglycerides are needed but too much of them can put people at higher risk for heart attack, stroke, inflammation of the pancreas, and other health problems.
What Are Symptoms of High Triglycerides?
don’t usually cause symptoms.
- If high triglycerides are caused by a genetic condition, fatty deposits under the skin called xanthomas may be present.
- Patients with very high triglyceride levels (above 1000 mg/dL) may develop pancreatitis.
What Causes High Triglycerides?
High triglycerides are caused by certain medical conditions, lifestyle habits, and some medicines, such as:
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Regularly eating foods that are high in fat and sugar
- Regularly eating more calories than you burn
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Certain medications
- Estrogen pills
High triglycerides also can run in families.
How Are High Triglycerides Diagnosed?
High blood triglycerides are diagnosed with a routine blood test called a lipid panel. A lipid panel measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Triglyceride level ranges are:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- A little bit high: 150 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high: 500 mg/dL or greater
- Moderately high: 500 to 886 mg/dL
- Very high: Greater than 886 mg/dL
What Is the Treatment for High Triglycerides?
In some cases, triglycerides may be lowered with lifestyle changes, such as:
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar and carbohydrates
- Avoiding red meat, fried foods, cheese, butter, oils, and nuts, especially if triglycerides are over 500
- Adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet
- Foods high in omega 3’s include:
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Ground flax seed
- Soy and legumes
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
These dietary changes such as avoiding sugars, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol, plus adding more omega-3 fatty acids to the diet may lower triglycerides more quickly.
- Foods high in omega 3’s include: