• How to Cut Your Triglycerides through Diet

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    By Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
    and Elizabeth Smoots, MD

     

    You may have been advised to you lower your triglyceride levels. While medication and aerobic exercise are effective in triglyceride lowering, there are also several dietary approaches you can try. If you want to lower your triglycerides without medications, be sure you talk with your doctor so that you can work together.

     

    Here’s Why It Is Important to Decrease Your Triglyceride Levels:   

    Triglycerides are the form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. In addition to consuming triglycerides in food, our bodies can make triglycerides from carbohydrate. Excess calories (those not used right away by the body’s tissues) are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored. These stored triglycerides can be broken down when the body needs energy.

    Recent research has linked a high triglyceride level (called hypertriglyceridemia) to an increased risk of heart disease. High and normal triglyceride levels are defined as follows:

    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 above 150 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/L), the following steps can help you lower your level to the healthful range:

     

    Eat a Diet Low in Saturated Fat

    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. Replace these foods with healthier fats and whole grain carbohydrates.

     

    Eat More Unsaturated Fats

    These healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are found in canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, olives, and fatty fish. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, and salmon, are especially good choices because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are good for your heart and may also help prevent other chronic conditions. Research has shown that eaten regularly, they can reduce your triglyceride level.

    Some ideas for replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat include the following:

    Choose fish over beef when dining 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)   

    While it is important to reduce saturated fat, do not overly restrict total fat (aim for less than 25–35% of total calories from fat). Excess carbohydrate can actually raise your triglycerides, while lowering HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” kind of cholesterol. This is why the recommendation is to replace saturated fat with healthier unsaturated fat. Also, limit sugary foods such as candy, soda, and sweets. Choose whole grain carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.

     

    Lose Excess Weight   

    Often losing as little as a 5-10 pounds can help lower your triglyceride level. To lose weight, cut down on excess calories from all sources, not just fat. Combine this decreased intake with a regular exercise program to increase the amount of calories you burn.

     

    Limit Alcohol Intake   

    Alcohol may contribute to high triglyceride levels. Consider drinking alcohol in moderation. Moderate alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

     

    Stop Smoking   

    Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

     

    Exercise Regularly   

    The American Heart Association recommends being physically active for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If you are not physically active already, you can start with 10 minutes of moderate activity like walking, swimming, or yoga, and gradually increase your activity. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

     

     RESOURCES:

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    http://www.eatright.org

    United States Department of Agriculture
    http://www.usda.gov

    Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

    Last Updated: 2/18/2014

     

    EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

    This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

     

    Copyright © 2014 EBSCO Information Services

    All rights reserved.

    • ChrisML

      I’ve been hypertensive for the past months, my cardiologist told me that my last lipid count shows my
      system is unable to use my metabolic fuel (high triglyceride
      count and LDL-C). My cardiologist further advice that stress reduction, along
      with diet and exercise, could help out with hypertension and may further
      reduce the risk of CV disease. For a couple of weeks now I started
      engaging in routine exercise, I am also been taking Omega 3 supplements
      (http://visiongroupcorp.com/omega3.html) to help out in lowering
      triglyceride count but with regards to diet will Paleo diet be effective in
      maintaining a normal triglyceride level? My dietician suggested if we
      can try vegan diet to reduce cholesterol intake, So far i don’t have
      difficulty in sleeping, no recent issues of facial flushing which is
      indication when I have High BP.

    July 30, 2014