Do you need tips to decrease your blood triglycerides? Triglycerides are the blood fat not readily discussed during your doctor’s appointment. The focus may be more on your blood cholesterol level. But, blood triglyceride levels are still very important to your heart heath. If your blood triglyceride value is elevated, your blood is thick like motor oil. This can contribute to heart disease as well as other medical conditions.
In addition to being present in your blood, triglycerides are the common fat found in all food as well as your body. In fact, 95% of the fat found in food and the human body would be classified triglycerides.
Normal ranges for triglycerides
These test results are part of simple routine blood work. When blood is checked for various types of cholesterol, triglycerides can also be measured. An elevated triglyceride level can be an independent medical problem, or related to another medical problem. For instance, poorly controlled diabetics often have elevated blood triglyceride levels. Those people with thyroid disease, obesity, and kidney disease also often have elevated triglyceride levels. Hypertriglyceridemia is the technical term for an elevated blood triglyceride level.
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) classifies ranges of fasting triglycerides as follows:
- Normal-less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL
- Borderline high- 150-199 mg/dL
- High- 200-499 mg/dL
- Very high- more than or equal to 500 mg/dL
In addition to increasing heart disease risk, elevated triglycerides increase risk of stroke and pancreatitis. When a stroke occurs, blood flow is cut off to the brain. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas gland is necessary for producing insulin which then regulates blood sugar levels.
Here are six simple tips to decrease your triglycerides:
1. Limit alcohol as the first of 6 tips to decrease your triglycerides
For some people, cutting out all alcohol drastically lowers triglyceride levels. And, while you may like it if your doctor tells you red wine is healthy, your dietitian knows it can increase your triglyceride levels. So, I tell patients to eat grapes instead! I know it’s not as fun, but it works. And, if you must have a beer, consider going the non-alcoholic beer route. Doing so will not cause your triglycerides to increase.
2. Choose fats wisely and make appropriate swaps
Replace highly saturated fats with more unsaturated fats. For instance, replace butter with olive oil. Don’t forget to swap these fats for each other! Simply adding olive oil to your diet on top of your usual butter intake will NOT decrease your triglyceride level. That also goes for topping your salad with a whole avocado. While an avocado has heart healthy fat, the impact on your triglycerides will be the same as too much olive oil. Scale it back to a small wedge or 2 Tbsp. Serving sizes of fats matter. Keep in mind that a serving of oil is only 1 teaspoon (not 1 tablespoon).
In addition to olive oil, consider using canola and peanut oil in your diet when needing fats. Add raw unprocessed nuts and seeds to the diet as another method of adding healthy fats to your current diet.
3. Decrease simple carbs
Carbohydrates are basically divided into two categories: complex and simple. Bread, pasta, rice, fruit, and vegetables are examples of complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates tend to be sweet, such as soft drinks, desserts, candies, and syrup. Individuals should avoid simple carbohydrates in order to decrease triglyceride levels. Some people are so biologically sensitive to sweets that their triglyceride levels drastically increase when they eat too much sugar.
In any healthful diet, complex carbohydrates should be in the 45-65% range of overall calories. But even excessive amounts of healthy complex carbohydrates can elevate triglycerides. Triglycerides often decrease when complex carbohydrates are less than 60% of the overall diet. Complex carbs that are rich in fiber will also aid in lowering your blood cholesterol, if that is of concern!
4. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids
Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring give us omega-3 fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: tofu, soybeans, milled flaxseed, chia seed, walnuts, and even green leafy vegetables. And, if you eat a food from an animal that ate a rich omega-3 fatty acid diet, you will reap the omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, when you buy eggs that say they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it’s because the chickens were fed an omega-3 fatty acid rich diet!
5. Increase physical activity
Aerobic exercise can help with weight loss. Aerobic exercise can also decrease triglyceride levels while aiding with weight reduction. Triglyceride reduction occurs with both short bouts of exercise and longer term repetitive exercise. Most studies find that the best bet is to do 30-45 minutes of moderately intensive exercise five times a week. Have your doctor approve an exercise program if you have been inactive.
6. Maintain or get to a healthy weight as a final tip to decrease your triglycerides
A healthy body weight has been shown to correlate with lower blood fats-including both triglycerides and cholesterol. In addition to reducing all blood fats, weight loss helps with decreasing blood pressure and diabetes.
Start lowering your triglycerides by cutting down your alcohol and total fat. Add some more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Be careful to add more healthy fats to your diet while decreasing more saturated fats. And, lastly, ramp up your physical activity and get to a healthy weight. These steps usually get the job done when trying to decrease triglyceride levels.
Do you have a success story about how you lowered your triglyceride numbers?