Looking for a diet to lower triglycerides? You had your blood tested, and your doctor is telling you that if you don’t get your triglycerides down you could have a heart attack or stroke? Here’s what you need to know about eating the right diet to lower triglycerides.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fatty acid in your body. When you eat more calories than you use, your body converts the excess calories into fat in the form of triglycerides and stores it in fat cells. Some of the triglycerides are always circulating in your blood. Triglycerides provide an energy reserve for your body. Whenever you need extra energy, your body breaks the triglycerides down into energy packets that your cells can use.
Excess triglycerides circulating in your blood, however, can clog up your arteries and cause damage to your pancreas. Normal triglyceride levels are below 150. If your triglycerides are above 200, they are too high. Triglycerides are usually measured as part of a “lipid panel” that also measures your cholesterol, including HDL and LDL.
Risk Factors for High Triglycerides
The most important risk factor for high triglycerides is obesity. You are also at risk for high triglycerides if you have diabetes, thyroid problems or kidney disease. Some forms of high triglycerides are inherited. Some medications, such as estrogen, birth control pills, water pills, beta blockers and steroids, can cause high triglycerides. Eating too much sugar and fat, and drinking alcohol can also cause high triglycerides.
Eating a Healthy Diet to Lower Triglycerides
Diet and exercise are the best way to lower your triglycerides. If you cannot get your triglyceride levels low enough with diet and exercise, you may need to take triglyceride-lowering medications. Here are the dietary guidelines for lowering triglycerides:
Decrease your calories and increase your activity. You have to use more energy than you take in if you want to lower your triglycerides. There is no magic bullet.
Eliminate sweets, sugars and processed carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are fine. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Complex carbohydrates are nutrient rich, and contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including antioxidants.
White sugar is poison to you. It causes your blood sugar to spike and fall until you develop insulin resistance. It contains no nutrients, only energy. It converts almost immediately to triglycerides. Corn syrup and corn sugars are just as bad, and they are in everything. Read labels, and watch out for sweeteners and flavorings. Any ingredient that ends in -ose or -ol is probably some kind of sugar.
Count carbs and don’t eat a lot of high calorie, high carbohydrate foods. Lean meat, fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy products should make up the bulk of what you eat.
Watch the amount and type of fat in your diet. Eliminate saturated and trans fats. Use small amounts of monosaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Add omega-3 fats by eating fish or adding flax seed to your food.
Don’t drink. Alcohol causes triglyceride levels to rise rapidly. If you are trying to lower your triglycerides you should eliminate alcohol from your diet.
For more information on a diet to lower triglycerides, check out the DASH diet or the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change) diet.
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