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Monday, 26 November 2012

What To Do When Blood Triglycerides Are Elevated?

What are Triglycerides? (TGs)

Triglycerides are fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Most of the fats we eat, including butter, margarine and oils, are in triglyceride form. Excess calories, alcohol or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.


How are triglycerides different from cholesterol?

Triglycerides and cholesterol are both fatty substances known as lipids. But triglycerides are fats; cholesterol is not. Cholesterol is a waxy, odorless substance made by the liver that is an essential part of cell walls and nerves.
Cholesterol also plays an important role in body functions such as digestion and hormone production. In addition to being produced by the body, cholesterol comes from animal foods that we eat.
Pure cholesterol cannot mix with or dissolve in the blood. Therefore, the liver packages cholesterol with triglycerides and proteins in carriers called lipoproteins to transport it to sites throughout the body. An elevated triglyceride level increases the risk of heart disease.

When are triglyceride levels measured?


Triglyceride levels are usually measured whenever you have a blood test called a Lipid Profile. Everyone over age 20 should have their cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. Your health care provider can check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by taking a sample of blood, which is sent to a lab for testing. The Lipid Profile shows your triglyceride level, total cholesterol level, HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) levels.
Following a meal, blood triglyceride levels are normally high. For an accurate reading, blood samples for a triglyceride test should be taken after a 12-hour period of not eating or drinking. Many other factors affect blood triglyceride levels including alcohol, diet, menstrual cycle, time of day and recent exercise.

What are the guidelines for triglyceride levels?

Guidelines for triglyceride levels in healthy adults are: 

How can triglycerides be lowered? 

- By changing your lifestyle such as eating right foods, exercising, losing weight if obese or overweight, no smoking and drinking alcohol.



If you have high triglycerides, you may be able to reduce them without medication by following a diet low in sugar and fat, as well as limiting your alcohol intake. Smokers should give up smoking too.
People who have high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol) or high LDL (bad cholesterol) levels may require medications as well as diet modifications. 
Patients with triglycerides in the very high range (over 500 mg/dL) generally will require medications, because triglyceride levels this high may cause other medical problems.

Which Foods help in Reducing TGs? What are the Dietary Changes to be followed?


Numerous kinds of fish can lower triglycerides. Halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna and trout are among the cold water fish that can lower triglycerides because they have a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study of a large population of Greenland Eskimos who eat mostly cold water fish, it was found they have very low triglyceride levels.
Anchovies and sardines also reduce triglycerides, because they have large amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fish oil.


Many fruits can lower triglyceride levels because they have a lot of fiber. According to many studies, apples, dates, figs and strawberries are fruits that are good at lowering triglycerides. People should be aware of the difference between unrefined carbohydrates like apples and refined carbohydrates like apple juice. When pure fruits are processed, a large percentage of their fiber is removed. Refined carbohydrates increase triglyceride levels.


Vegetables in their unrefined form can reduce triglyceride levels in the same way that fruits can. 
The vegetables with the most triglyceride-lowering fiber include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, corn, kale, peas, onions, potatoes and yams. Leafy vegetables too have good amount of fiber thus helping in TG reduction.


Cereals with oat bran and rice bran can reduce triglyceride levels, because oat bran and rice bran are soluble fibers. Breads with fibers can also reduce triglycerides. Many studies report that wheat bread is much better than white bread because "white flour (maida) has much less fiber than whole wheat flour as the wheat bran has been removed." Baked cakes and cookies, some cereals, pretzels, white bread, white pasta and white rice can raise triglyceride levels, reports "The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating."


Cooked black-eyed peas (chawli beans) might have more potential for reducing triglycerides than any other food because it has more soluble fiber, 4.5g per 1/2 cup serving; cooked kidney beans (rajmah) and cooked pinto beans (light colored rajmah) also have a lot of soluble fiber, as well as a lot of insoluble fiber. They also have a potential for reducing triglycerides. Besides these, whole mung, black channa, kabuli channa, whole masoor etc are also legumes rich in fiber.

A high-fiber diet helps to reduce your risk of heart disease, because fiber inhibits the body from absorbing cholesterol. High-fiber foods such as legumes, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, rice bran and oat bran help to lower both triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, levels, notes the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Aim to get about 25 to 35 g of fiber every day. Be sure to drink plenty of water and add fiber into your diet slowly to avoid bloating, cramping and gas.

Eliminate Sugar

Eliminate processed sugar from your diet. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup can raise triglycerides. A report from the University of Massachusetts Medical School lists eliminating sugar from your diet as one of the top ways to reduce your triglyceride levels. This means staying away from candies,chocolates,cakes, pastries, sweets, sugary drinks like sodas, colas, and punch and even foods such as sweetened yogurt.

 Cut Down Simple Carbs


Cut back on your carbs. Simple carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta are quickly converted to sugar within the body, causing the same spike in triglyceride levels that eating processed sugars do. A study reported in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" shows that the subjects who eat a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet had a significant increase in their triglyceride levels. If you are going to eat carbs, do not eat simple carbs such as breads, pastas and refined rice. Opt for whole grains and oats, which take longer to enter the blood stream.

Eliminate Trans Fats

Eliminate Trans fats from the diet, and replace them with monounsaturated fats. Trans fats can be recognized by reading nutrition labels on foods. According to the FDA, food that is "partially hydrogenised" or "hydrogenated" is a trans fat. This means replacing margarine and vegetable oils with butter and olive oil. Replace high-fat cuts of meat with leaner meats and fish. It also means avoiding fried foods, which are often cooked with trans fat oils.

Exercise and Triglyceride Levels

You reduce your triglyceride levels when you exercise because burning fat stored in your body cuts the fat levels in your blood. A normal triglyceride level is defined as less than 150 mg per dL, The University Of Massachusetts Medical School says. A variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercises can reduce triglyceride levels; say studies published in several medical publications.
High levels of triglycerides also are caused by "consuming too many calories, inadequate exercise, and being overweight or obese," the Mayo Clinic reports. Consequently, exercising can reduce triglyceride levels dramatically because exercise, in combination with a good diet, can help you lose weight and improve your metabolism, so you have fewer cravings for high-calorie food. By itself, more exercise can lower your triglyceride levels "as much as 40 percent," reports "High Triglycerides," a Kansas State University report. 

You should exercise moderately or vigorously 30 minutes daily "most days of the week, according to the "Harvard Women's Health Watch." The publication cites bicycling, brisk walking and stair climbing as beneficial exercises.

Aerobic Exercises

Medical studies prove that continuous aerobic exercises such as bicycling, running and walking reduce triglycerides. The August 1982 issue of the journal Metabolism reported that one hour of aerobic exercise reduces triglyceride levels for sedentary men and competitive bicyclists within 24 hours by 22 percent and 17 percent respectively. A 1977 issue of the journal Annals of New York Academy of Science reported that people with higher triglyceride levels experienced greater reductions than people with normal levels and that "a physically active lifestyle may help to prevent the age-related rise in triglycerides normally observed in men."

Anaerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises have long proven to be more effective at reducing heart disease risks than stop-and-start anaerobic exercises. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1984 showed that women and men had a "significant decrease in triglycerides" after weight-lifting regularly. The University of New Mexico Exercise Science Department reported that the study was one of a few studies that showed "resistance training" may reduce triglyceride levels.

Lose weight

If you are overweight, make a decision to reach your healthy weight and stay there. The American Heart Association reported in its journal, "Circulation," that obesity is a big risk factor for high triglyceride levels. It also reports that obesity has been found to lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). Losing weight will not only lower your triglycerides and improve your overall cholesterol rating, it will also lower your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related ailments.

Quit Smoking immediately!

Quit smoking if you have a habit. Smoking lowers the level of HDL cholesterol, which helps transport triglycerides through the blood stream back to the liver to be removed from the body. The Oslo Study of Diet and Anti-Smoking Advice reported that there was a decrease in serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in groups of men who had quit smoking. If you quit smoking, you also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Avoid Stress

Reduce the stress in your life. The "Psychophysiology Journal" reports that stress reduces the body's ability to metabolize fats in the blood. In the study, triglyceride levels were higher during times of stress than they were when checked in times of non stress. Do whatever relaxes you for a few moments each day, whether it's yoga, reading a book or taking a nap or listening to good music.
 Avoid Alcohol

Cut down, or eliminate, alcohol from your diet. According to Joanne Larsen, R.D., alcohol can raise triglyceride levels. This could partially be due to the amount of sugar found in alcohol and the fact that excess alcohol consumption puts stress on the liver. Alcohol is also very high in calories, which can cause you to gain weight. The American Heart Association recommends limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women, and they should be consumed with a meal.

 In conclusion, taking the above steps and regular consultation with your doctor and dietitian, will not only help in lowering the blood TGs but also put you and your heart to a healthy path!

Eat Healthy & Stay Healthy!!