Nutrition Articles

Triglycerides and Your Health

What Are Triglycerides and How Do You Improve Them?

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So how do you lower your triglycerides? By making heart-healthy lifestyle choices when it comes to your diet, weight and fitness. Here are a few ways to start:
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Since your body releases triglycerides into the bloodstream from your stored fat, the less fat you have available, the lower your triglycerides will be. You don't have to lose a lot of weight to see a benefit either. Losing just 7-10% of your body weight (just 14-20 pounds for a 200-pound person) can make a difference in your triglycerides—and for your heart!
     
  • Control your calories. Consuming more calories than your body needs results in the extra calories being stored as fat (triglycerides) in the body. By eating what you need—not more—you'll help manage your weight and lower your triglycerides, too. Use the SparkPeople program to determine your daily calorie needs, and the Nutrition Tracker to keep your calories in check.
     
  • Avoid sugar and fast-digesting carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates (like white flour) and sugars in any form (sugar, corn syrup, natural sweeteners, honey, etc.) are more likely to be stored as fat (triglycerides), especially if eaten in excess. Limit your intake of added sugars and make sure that you're not overeating carbs, which should make up no more than 60% of your total calories each day. When making carbohydrate choices, choose fiber-rich, unprocessed foods as much as possible, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. These are slower-digesting and less likely to be stored as fat when compared to other carbohydrate sources.
     
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet. Limit your daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200 milligrams and keep your saturated fat intake to less than 7% of your daily calories. Choose foods rich in heart-healthy fats, such as nuts, olive oil, seafood and avocadoes while limiting your intake of trans fats (hydrogenated oils). If you do drink alcohol, you may need to cut back. Small amounts of alcohol (which is high in calories and sugar and is often stored as fat) have been shown to elevate triglyceride levels, so cut back on drinking.
     
  • Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most of all days of the week. Exercise boosts your HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and your triglycerides. Plus, it helps you to burn extra calories and lose weight—both of which can reduce triglycerides in their own right. Get started with SparkPeople's Heart-Smart Workout Plan!
This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, MS, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

Sources
American Heart Association. "Triglycerides," accessed March 2011. www.americanheart.org.

Mayo Clinic. "Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?," accessed March 2011. www.mayoclinic.com.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults," accessed March 2011. www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
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Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • This article, while full of excellent--and accurate--informa
    tion, is incomplete. There are certain prescription medications such as hormonal birth control, steroids, beta blockers, anti-psychotics and even blood pressure medications that can elevate triglycerides. While all the author's advice for lowering your triglyceride levels are absolutely reasonable, one should also consider the potential for factors which might require close consultation with your physician. - 9/17/2014 2:31:11 AM
  • My husband has had triglycerides problems for years and its a constant yoyo. He cant take statins that causes body aches. He has tried fish oil and is currently taking prescription. Latest results this week was trig back up to 1591. It has been determined its hereditary and been going on for at least 10 years. I need a diet plan to follow. He is a country boy and likes country foods. Eats several fruits and vegetables a day and no or very limited alcohol. ( maybe a case a year, if that) Please help - 8/23/2014 8:56:06 AM
  • MRCMDT
    Good advice since heart problems run in my family/ - 8/21/2014 4:22:11 PM
  • JMONTIE
    Very informative. - 4/11/2014 10:18:30 AM
  • ISLAYY
    My triglycerides count is 2.36 mmol/L. How do I convert this number to correspond with the number in your article? - 3/24/2014 11:19:27 AM
  • BG2YHEART
    Yes, there have been five clinical trials whose subgroup (high TGs) analyses have all shown an outcome benefit (fewer heart attacks, strokes, etc.) when high TGs are lowered medically. Vascepa is effective in lowering TG levels and has a good safety profile, notably better than fenofibrates. Its manufacturer should be permitted to inform those 36 million high TG patients, and their doctors and insurers, of the ANCHOR trial data, and to market Vascepa for the high TG indication. Only then will these patients, in consultation with their doctors, be able to make informed decisions whether to use Vascepa to lower their high TGs. - 3/22/2014 11:27:21 PM
  • CMM3RD
    I echo ZMANINMD's comment about the relatively new drug Vascepa. If your TGs are over 200 and persist above that level after you have tried diet and exercise, do a little research on Vascepa and then ask your doctor (who may never have heard of it because it is new and its manufacturer is a small company), to consider whether you should try it. It's a highly purified Omega 3 called EPA, which stands for Eicosapentanoic Acid Ethyl Ester. Multiple clinical trials showed it to be effective in lowering elevated TGs, and it also lowers some markers of systemic inflammation. Even better is that it is very safe, in particular it does not, unlike the older drug Lovaza, which your doctor probably has heard of, raise LDLc ("bad" cholesterol) and it has no "black box" warning of an association with atrial fibrillation. Also, in one trial, in addition to lowering elevated TGs, it actually raised HDLc ("good" cholesterol) slightly. The FDA approved it in 2012. Good luck! - 3/20/2014 5:52:13 PM
  • CHICAGO471
    I just love this site each moring when i get up , the first thing i do is check my sparks . i love all the different receipes & have tryed quite a few . just love all the info & different sites that i can check out thank you so much. job well done. i espically love that the receipes have all the calories , etc listed - 3/20/2014 9:28:27 AM
  • HAZEL12310
    Good information. - 3/20/2014 9:05:48 AM
  • Thank you ! - 2/15/2014 4:22:29 PM
  • ZMANINMD
    I thought I would pass along my experience with a new Omega 3 prescription drug. I use VASCEPA at 2g and previously tried Plusepa and Krill oil to lower my triglycerides and ease the muscle pain I have by taking atorvastatin. I also tried OTC Niacin at 750mg and COQ-10 and all I was able to gain was a case of reflux. I stopped taking all the supplements and the reflux went away but not the dull ache from the statin. Then I heard about this new prescription drug Vascepa. After educating my cardiologist he gave me a prescription and I started this drug in June. Within 3 weeks I was virtually ache free and could lift weights and I am now working out 3 days and sometimes 5 days per week. Pain free and my entire cholesterol profile is down on average 9% since my last test and even down compared to a year's worth of tests. My Cardiologist let me know that if my test results remain the same on my next visit he will lower my statin dose to the lowest level. It has taken over 2 years to get there and adding Vascepa did the trick. - 11/9/2013 9:00:29 PM
  • HOOLAHOOP2
    I love this site. I learn more basics from this site than any other. And, I do incorporate the much needed information into my life profile. I left weights at the gym. I used to do both cardio, and lift. I had to keep my cardio to a minimum, due to dropping weight fast. I am a small person 5' 6", 130 lbs, and do not want to lose any more weight. In fact, I would like to pick up about 5 lbs. My cholesterol is slightly high. How do I follow the program for lowering my cholesterol, and not lose weight. I eat well already, but, I need carbs to help keep the weight on. I can miss two meals, and the weight loss will show. Thanks for any and all advice. - 10/22/2013 8:40:55 AM
  • LOREEANN2
    THANKS FOR INFORMATION ON TRIGLYCERIDES - 8/19/2013 3:33:20 PM
  • So basically EVERY fat person has triglycerides because triglycerides come from the stored fat. The more fat you have the higher the triglycerides. So if you ARE LOSING WEIGHT you are RELEASING the stored fat (triglycerides) into your blood stream so that it can be released from your body in some form. Either by using the energy or solid or liquid waste. But there are slim people who have high triglycerides. So it is logical that the problem is not fat but how the body processes the fat. Otherwise slim people would not have this problem. Chemical processes of the body are more the cause. Triglycerides are a symptom not the problem. - 5/2/2013 10:04:03 AM
  • Having gone thru blood profiles and interpretations, I found this to be very down to earth and understandable - I could see word pictures. - 3/26/2013 10:27:39 AM

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