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10 Steps to Lower Triglycerides

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Watching your cholesterol is nearly as common nowadays as watching your blood pressure or your weight. But do you watch your triglyceride levels? 

Triglycerides are a type of fat that gives you energy. Similar to cholesterol, triglycerides are produced by your liver but can also come from food. Knowing the level of triglycerides circulating in your blood is important because high triglycerides indicate that you may be at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.  Here’s advice to help reduce your triglyceride levels. 

  1. Lose weight. If you're overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight will reduce your triglycerides by approximately 20 percent.   
  2. Cut the sugar. Individuals whose added sugar intake is less than 10 percent of daily calories have the lowest triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends that only 5 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars.   
  3. Stock up on fiber. Instead of consuming sugar and other refined carbohydrates, focus on more fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. 
  4. Limit fructose. Studies have found that consuming too much fructose -- a type of sugar -- leads to high triglycerides. High-fructose corn syrup is a major source of fructose. You can determine whether a food contains sugar or high-fructose corn syrup by reading the ingredients list. 
  5. Eat a moderately low-fat diet. You may be surprised to learn that diets that are very low in fat are not as effective at lowering triglycerides as diets moderately low in fat. The American Heart Association recommends that people with high triglycerides get about 25 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat. 
  6. Watch the type of fat you eat. Cut back on saturated fats, which are found in red meat, poultry fat, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils, and keep trans fats, found in shortening and stick margarine, to a minimum.   
  7. Add omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, lake trout and albacore tuna are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids -- a type of fat that is actually good for you. To reap the benefits, the American Heart Association recommends that you eat fatty fish at least twice a week. 
  8. Exercise. If you have high triglycerides, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate- intensity physical activity most days of the week may lower your triglyceride levels.    
  9. Limit alcohol. Some studies have linked even small amounts of alcohol to modest increases in triglycerides, although others have found no association at all.    
  10. Take triglyceride-lowering drugs. If your triglycerides are very high (500 mg/ dL or above), your doctor might recommend a medication shown to lower triglycerides, such as fibrates, niacin, omega-3s (a prescription form called Lovaza is approved for lowering triglycerides) or statins.  

 

Posted in Heart Health on January 27, 2012


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer


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Health After 50 Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Scientific American Health After 50 or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


This advice is basically OK but will only moderately lower triglycerides. The simple fact is that a high fat, moderately high protein diet together with very modest well thought out carbohydrates will drastically cut triglycerides w/o drugs. My triglycerides were in the 500 range and now are about 50 using the above described regimen. (this will also dramatically raise HDLs (the "good") cholesterol. The only carbs to eat are greens, vegetables like green beans, broccoli, spinach and their ilk. All sugar is about 1/2 fructose so if you see the word sugar, think fructose and think bad. Fruit juice is a killer and eating any fruit is bad if triglycerides are high. Meat with fat, chicken with skin are your friends. You will be satiated w/o stuffing yourself and you won't have hunger pangs an hour or two later. This diet will absolutely lower triglycerides drastically w/in a month. It will also lower your weight effortlessly. This is a former 280 pound bypass survivor (14 years ago) speaking who now weighs 190 with perfect sugar and blood fat scores.

Posted by: HJL | January 28, 2012 10:49 AM

I agree with HJL in that there is no research (which has not been widely discredited) that shows animal and vegetable fats increase levels of triglycerides in the blood. Starchy foods and those high in carbohydrates have continually been shown to be the culprit, and it is likely that skipping meals (especially breakfast) worsens the effect as the body thinks it is starving and puts more unused calories in reserve. THAT is what triglycerides essentially are- stored energy. So just limit the carbs, avoid the trans fats altogether and make protein and green foods the cornerstones of your diet.

Posted by: jaythurman | November 21, 2012 5:53 PM

Thank you Jay for the vote of confidence and your advice is correct. However, just limiting carbs won't cut it. They have to be severely limited and virtually all sugar eliminated which includes all fruit. With carbs severely limited, each carb must count, so yes eat lots of salad greens and green vegetable. With carbs limited you are left with protein and fat (not trans fat). Therefore, you must eat full fat meat and dairy. Fat is safe in an extremely limited carb diet as discussed above. Your caloric intake will be lowered effortlessly because you are eating real food w/o sugar highs and lows which cause extra food intake. The fat slows digestion which keeps you sated and the greens give you fiber.

Posted by: | November 22, 2012 2:19 PM

With rare exceptions, the advice from the medical community is always the same no matter what the illness: lose weight, exercise, limit sugar, limit fat, etc. There is no acknowledgement of how incredibly difficult these activities are. One of the comments even says that caloric intake can be lowered effortlessly.

Posted by: jackyhood | May 25, 2013 5:38 PM

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