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High Triglycerides – A silent killer
Triglycerides can be defined as a type of fat which is present in our blood and is used for generating energy. However, like any other thing excessive triglyceride level is harmful for our health.
Increased triglyceride level is a risk factor for many metabolic diseases. That’s why, it is important for us to lower and to control our triglyceride level.
Excess calories will be stored in fat cells in the form of triglycerides. The function is to provide energy for body cells, to protect vital organs, and to help absorbing vitamins and minerals
Status of Triglyceride
Normal Triglyceride Level
- Less than 150
- Borderline-high Triglyceride Level
- 150 – 199
- High Triglyceride Level
- 200 – 499
- Very High Triglyceride Level
- 500 and above
These are some metabolic disease that is influenced by increased triglyceride levels:
- Atherosclerosis. It is the basic mechanism of heart attack and stroke.
- Diabetes. Increased triglyceride levels will stimulate the release of certain inflammatory cells called “cytokine” in the bloodstream. It will influence the body ability to control blood glucose levels.
- Metabolic syndrome, which is formed of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
- Fatty liver disease. Increased triglyceride level cause excessive fat cells to be stored in the liver so it can promote fatty liver disease.
- Xanthoma. Increased triglyceride levels stimulate itch and acne is hands, foot, and buttocks.
What are Causes of High Triglycerides Level?
The causes for high triglyceride levels can be listed as follows:
- Poor control over diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity)
- High consumption of carbohydrates and sweets.
- High consumption of alcohol
- Kidney diseases
- Genetic lipid disorders
- High estrogen levels (like when undergoing estrogen replacement therapy during menopause)
- Some medicines like steroids, beta-blockers, diuretics, and birth control pills.
Steps to control triglycerides
1) Lose weight. If you are overweight, evidence suggests that even a 5 to 10 percent weight loss results in a 20 percent decrease in triglyceride levels.
The amount of decrease in your triglyceride level will depend on the amount of weight you lose. If you carry excess weight in your waist, you have a higher chance of having elevated triglyceride levels, so this is especially important for those of you who are overweight with a large waist circumference (> 35 inches or 88 cm for women, and >40 inches or 102 cm for men.)
Decrease the overall quantity of foods you consume, exercise regularly and avoid high calorie snacks and drinks. This should help decrease your caloric intake and increase your metabolism. Weight loss occurs if the energy from your food intake is less than the energy your body will burn.
2) Limit the amount of sugar in your diet. Excess sugar is shown to raise triglyceride levels.
Foods such as candies, desserts, soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee and drink mixes are very high in sugar. Try eating sugar free hard candies and consuming drinks with zero sugar and carbohydrates.
Look at the sugar content on food labels. Sugar is listed as part of the total carbohydrate content. A normal serving amount for carbohydrate is 15 total grams. For example, if the product contains 30 grams of carbohydrate per serving and 28 grams of the product is from sugars, you know it is a high-sugar item. The sugars shouldn’t be more than about 1/3 of the total carbohydrate content of the food item per serving.
For many people, avoiding regularly sweetened drinks and fruit juices is the easiest way to eliminate excess sugar in the diet. Remember that although fruit juice is considered to contain “natural” sugar, your body will process it in a similar way as table sugar, which contributes to elevated triglyceride levels.
3) Limit saturated and Trans fats. Try to develop the habit of regularly eating foods low in fat. Low fat foods contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving.
Aim to consume less than 6 tbps. of added fat daily by avoiding high fat meats and dairy products
Always use oils like canola, vegetable, peanut and olive oils rather than coconut oil to cook with. These oils are healthier and lower in saturated fat.
Use soft margarines in a tub rather than stick margarine to avoid Trans fat since Trans fats are also shown to increase triglyceride levels.
4) Add Omega-3 fats to your diet. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help decrease triglyceride levels in some people. If you eat fish, it should be added to your diet 2 to 3 days per week. Adding a serving of walnuts daily is another option. Sources of omega-3 fats include: salmon, mackerel, cod, walnuts, flaxseed oil, soybean oil and fish oil supplements. Serving sizes can be found on the label of these foods.
5) Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol in your diet can raise your triglyceride level. It should be limited in most people with elevated triglyceride levels. The amount of restriction depends on your ability to process it; some people can have 1 drink daily without causing triglyceride levels to increase, while others can’t. If your triglyceride level is greater than 500 mg/dL, it should be avoided completely.
6) Exercise regularly. Physical activity may help with lowering your triglyceride level, depending on the level. However, being active will help you lose weight, which decreases your triglycerides.
7) Avoid Smoking: It is well known that cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors for heart disease. So, if you want a healthy heart, take steps towards quitting. There are numerous smoking cessation programs and medications. Give one of these a try and try honestly to quit. Quitting smoking can help avoid many other potentially life-threatening diseases
8) Decrease your triglyceride level with medication. You may need medication, depending on your risk factors and triglyceride level. Your physician will determine your need for it and can prescribe a medication designed to lower triglyceride levels.
If your triglyceride level is 500 mg/dL or above, your physician will probably prescribe medication immediately since that can cause acute pancreatitis. Your physician may also prescribe a medication if you have already changed your lifestyle and your triglyceride level is still too elevated. Sometimes, a combination of both lifestyle changes and medication is necessary to get your triglycerides to an appropriate or optimal level. Examples of medications used to treat elevated triglycerides are: Gemfibrozil, Niacin, Lovastatin, Lipitor, Pravastatin, Simvastatin, Cholestyramine and Omega-3 supplements
Diet to Lower Triglycerides Level Naturally
Fish, especially the oily fish having more of omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, mackerel). Have fish at least twice a week. If you don’t eat fish, have fish oil supplements.Here is a list of foods that can help lower triglyceride levels in your blood. Try to include more and more of them in your diet either in breakfast, lunch, dinner or while having snacks.
- Whole wheat bread
- Fat less milk
- Lean Turkey
- Low fat yogurt
- Brown rice
All the above food items have been found effective when you want to reduce triglyceride level. Low triglyceride level will make you free of all health worries and you will be able to live life to its fullest. So, move yourself a little more and eat healthy to keep those high levels of triglyceride at bay!