If you lead a healthy lifestyle, keep track of your diet, or keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, there is a chance that you have already heard about triglycerides, and why they are important for a healthy heart. In case you have not heard about triglycerides yet, in this article we want to explain what you should know about triglycerides, what to do if your triglycerides are too high, and why it is advisable to check your triglyceride levels with a heart check test from Homed-IQ.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat that can be found in your blood. As you may know, your body converts calories it does not need into triglycerides and stores them in your fat cells. Throughout the day, your body then accesses these fat cells and releases the triglycerides for energy in between meals. Therefore, a certain amount of fat is healthy and important. The problem starts when you consume more calories than your body burns on a regular basis. This can lead to hypertriglyceridemia, the term for high triglycerides.
What causes high triglycerides?
Factors that can increase your triglycerides can be:
- Kidney or liver problems
- Poorly managed type 2 diabetes
- Genetic disorders
- Being overweight
- Eating too much sugar
- Regular calorie surplus
Why do high triglycerides matter?
This question might suggest that having high triglycerides is something positive, but it isn’t. High triglycerides can be an indicator of other conditions that can increase the risk of a stroke or a heart disease, such as obesity or metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around your waist, high triglycerides, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Next to that, high triglycerides can also be an indicator of:
- Low levels of thyroid hormones
- Type 2 diabetes
What triglyceride level is considered normal?
Now that we know why high triglycerides matter and can be seen as an warning sign for your health, you might ask yourself what level of triglycerides is considered normal. Below you will find a small table with an overview of what levels of triglycerides are normal, borderline, high, and very high.
|Normal||< 150 mg/dL|
|Borderline||150 – 199 mg/dL|
|High||200 – 499 mg/dL|
|Very high||500 and above|
Note: mg = milligrams dL = deciliter
How to lower your triglycerides
Did you just learn that you have high triglycerides and are wondering what you can do to lower your levels? The key factor that has the most influence in lowering your triglycerides is a healthy lifestyle. It should be pointed out that a combination of multiple factors is needed in order to tackle high triglycerides, so exercising regularly, but still eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol won’t be sufficient. Therefore, we created a list of tips for you that can help lower your triglycerides.
Tip 1 – Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity can help lower your triglycerides and boost good cholesterol. You should aim for at least half an hour of physical activity a day.
Tip 2 – Choose healthier fats
It might surprise you that not all fats are bad. Your body needs fat, but it needs the right kind of fat. So-called saturated fats found in fast food and meats should be replaced by plant based fats from plants, such as canola or olive oil. One exception, however, is fish; fish is high in omega-3 fats and therefore a good exception from animal-based fats.
Tip 3 – Stop smoking and limit your alcohol consumption
You knew this tip would show up, didn’t you? As you might have read in many of our other blogs, cutting back on alcohol and stopping smoking can help reduce the risk for many health-related risks. Alcohol is high in calories and also sugar. Also, alcohol has a particularly strong effect on triglycerides.
Tip 4 – Focus on fibre intake
Fibre can help lower your triglycerides and can be found in whole grains. To add more fibre to your diet, simply replace foods made with refined white flour, such as bread or pasta, with the whole grain version. Whole grains also fill you up faster, which results in eating/requiring less bread or pasta in a meal. But be aware – whole grain alternatives have a higher amount of carbs, leading to more calories per 100g.
Tip 5 – Avoid sugar
Sugar is directly linked to increasing triglycerides. Simple sugars, especially fructose (yes, that’s right; fruits), raise triglycerides. It is advised to also learn how to read food labels and spot hidden sugars. You may be surprised to learn how many words there are for sugar because “sugar”. All the words that end with “ose”, such as dextrose, glucose, maltose, and also lactose – are all different forms of sugar!
Beckerman, J. (2021, July 29). Beyond Cholesterol: 14 Ways to Lower Triglycerides. WebMD. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/ss/slideshow-triglycerides-tips
Iliades, C., MD, & Marcellin, L., MD. (2021, April 13). How to Lower Triglycerides With Lifestyle Changes. EverydayHealth.Com. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health-pictures/why-triglyceride-levels-matter.aspx
Mayo Clinic. (2020, September 29). Triglycerides: Why do they matter? Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Triglycerides. MedlinePlus – Triglycerides. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/triglycerides.html