Triglyceride is the most common type of lipid in the body and it is stored in fat tissue. Only a small portion of your triglycerides is found in the bloodstream. Triglykerides are not cholesterol, however many times they are presented together as they share similar risks and treatment strategies.
Elevated triglycerides can be caused by physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates and sugar. Underlying diseases or genetic disorders are sometimes the cause of high triglycerides. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL cholesterol (bad) level and a low HDL cholesterol (good) level. Anyone who’s been diagnosed with high triglyceride levels needs to lower them or risk serious health consequences. High triglycerides are often the first step on the path not only to heart disease, but to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
|Less than 150 mg/dL||Normal|
|150-199 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|500 mg/dL or above||Very high|
Tips to reduce triglycerides:
- Cut simple sugars out of your diet: excess sugar is a primary ingredient for triglycerides
- Reduce or eliminate your intake of vegetable fats and highly processed trans fatty acids. Instead, eat the more natural fats that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids like those in fish, grass-fed beef, avocados, seeds, and nuts. Eat smaller meals and spread them throughout the day.
- Eat more fiber. A very inexpensive and easy way to add fiber is by taking a teaspoon or so of psyllium each morning. Metamucil and other psyllium-based products are readily available and make the process very convenient. Fiber decreases the bowel transit time, so fewer calories are absorbed.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption (no more than one drink a day)
- Quit smoking
- Exercise. Weight-bearing activity, in particular, increases muscle mass and raises your metabolic rate. This will help your body burn more carbohydrates, leaving less for storage.
When prescription medication is needed, lowering triglycerides usually starts with medication that lowers LDL cholesterol levels — many of the same medications used to lower cholesterol will also lower triglycerides.
Fish oil in doses of 3.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day, can also effectively lower triglycerides.
Niacin (nicotinic acid) comes as a prescription or a dietary supplement, and can help lower triglycerides. However, dietary supplements are not regulated and should not be substituted for a prescription from your doctor. Side effects may include itching, skin flushing, dizziness, muscle pain, and stomach upset. You may not be able to take niacin if you have diabetes, peptic ulcer, gout, or liver disease.
Fibrates like Tricor (fenofibrate) are used specifically to lower triglyceride levels. Side effects include stomach upset, gallstones, and muscle aches. You should not take fibrates if you have kidney disease or severe liver disease.