February 2, 2017
Lowering High Triglycerides – Part 1
Triglycerides are the most common fat in the human body. Whether from animal or plant sources, most of the foods people eat can have an impact on the levels of triglycerides in the blood.
There are many different types of fats, from polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil to the saturated fats found in red meat. They all contribute to triglyceride levels in the body, but they do so in different ways.
When a person eats more calories than their body needs, the body stores these extra calories in the form of triglyceride fats. Then later, when the body needs more energy, it consumes these fats instead of needing more calories.
Triglycerides are important for health, but high levels of triglycerides in the body can lead to conditions such as heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Taking steps to lower triglyceride levels and reduce other risk factors can decrease a person's chances of developing heart disease.
It is important to understand triglyceride levels in order to adjust them. The normal range for triglyceride levels is considered to be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter.
At-risk levels are anywhere from 150-199 milligrams per deciliter, and high triglyceride levels range from 200-499 milligrams per deciliter. Anything above 500 milligrams per deciliter is considered very high.
There are many ways to reduce triglyceride levels safely. These can depend on the reasons why triglyceride levels are high in the first place. If an individual regularly consumes more calories than the body can burn, it will result in an excess of triglycerides in the body. One way to lower triglyceride levels in the blood is to reduce the overall number of calories ingested every day.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there is evidence that a 5-10 percent weight loss can decrease triglyceride levels by 20 percent. The decrease in triglycerides is directly related with losing weight.
In order to lower triglyceride levels, an individual must watch what they eat and adopt a nutrient-rich diet. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is a great way to increase the nutrients consumed, while also reducing calories.
A diet that is good for the heart and the blood also includes reducing the amount of sodium, refined grains, added sugars, and what are known as solid fats in the diet. Solid fats come from meat, full-fat dairy products, and some tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oil. These foods contain trans fats and saturated fats.
Trans fats and saturated fats raise triglyceride levels, so people should try to replace them wherever possible. Unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), actually lower triglyceride levels.
Omega-3 fats found in cod liver oil, cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, and flaxseeds are great ways to add PUFAs to a diet. For example, instead of a steak or hamburger, which are high in saturated fats, people can opt for a filet of salmon or a tuna sandwich. Animal products, such as lean meats, skinned poultry, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and seafood are also good options.
Individuals should limit their total carbohydrate intake to below 60 percent of their recommended daily calorie allowance. Diets with a carbohydrate intake above 60 percent are associated with a rise in triglyceride levels.
Ways to avoid carbohydrates include, for example, choosing lean burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of a high-carb bun. For dessert, opting for fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries instead of sugary baked goods can reduce sugar cravings while also lowering overall carb intake.
Continue in the next blog.