Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and considered an important measure of heart health. High levels of triglycerides in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease, but the same lifestyle choices that promote overall health can help lower triglycerides as well, according to a Mayo Clinic report. .
What are triglycerides?
When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides, and triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals..
If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, especially from foods rich in carbohydrates, you may have high triglycerides.
Normal level of triglycerides
A simple blood test can reveal whether or not your triglycerides are in the healthy range:
Normal – less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
Borderline elevation: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
Very high: 500 mg/dL or higher (5.7 mmol/L or higher)
Your doctor will usually check for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test, which is sometimes called a lipid panel or lipid profile. You will have to fast before your blood is drawn for an accurate triglyceride measurement..
What is the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?
Triglycerides and cholesterol are two different types of fats that circulate in the blood:
Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.
Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.
What is the danger of high triglycerides?
High triglycerides may contribute to atherosclerosis or thickening of the artery walls (atherosclerosis), which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. Very high triglycerides can also cause severe inflammation in the pancreas..
High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high sugar). in the blood.
High triglycerides can also be a sign of:
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Metabolic syndrome: A condition in which high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease.
- Low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism)
- Some rare genetic conditions that affect how the body converts fat into energy
Sometimes high triglycerides is a side effect of taking certain medications, such as:
- Estrogen and progestin
- beta blockers
- Some immunosuppressants
- Some HIV medicines
Best way to lower triglycerides
Doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week can regularly lower your triglycerides and boost your “good” cholesterol Try incorporating more physical activity into your daily tasks for example climbing stairs at work or walking during breaks.
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and foods made with white flour or fructose, can increase triglycerides.
If you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia, focus on reducing calories, and excess calories are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat Reducing calories will reduce triglycerides.
Choose healthy fats:
Replace saturated fats in meat with healthy fats found in plants such as olive oil and canola oil instead of red meat Try fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids – such as mackerel or salmon Avoid trans fats or foods with oils or hydrogenated fats.
Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink:
Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly strong effect on triglycerides if you have severe hypertriglyceridemia.