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What if Cholesterol Is Normal and Triglycerides Are High?

author image Kevin Rail
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What if Cholesterol Is Normal and Triglycerides Are High?
Excess calories from unhealthy food, such as baked goods, get stored in fat cells. Photo Credit olgakr/iStock/Getty Images

Cholesterol and triglycerides are substances in the body known as lipids. When both of these levels become elevated, it is known as a lipid disorder. If only your triglyceride levels rise, it is called hypertriglyceridemia. The way to reduce your triglycerides is similar to the approach taken to lower your cholesterol levels.


Triglycerides become elevated when you consume excess calories and do not burn them off. This in turn causes them to get stored in fat cells. Too much of this type of fat can contribute to hardening and narrowing of your arteries, which increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH. By making healthy lifestyle adjustments, you will reduce your disease risk.


Certain foods boost triglycerides, and they should be avoided. Anything that is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat should be restricted, for example. This includes foods such as deep-fried onion rings, cheese fries, meatball hoagies, whole-fat dairy products and red meat. Trans fats are found in foods that contain partially and fully hydrogenated oils, such as baked desserts. You also need to cut back on simple carbs, which are refined and high in sugar. White bread, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, crackers and pastries are examples.

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Because triglycerides get stored in fat cells, weight loss can help reduce your levels. If you're overweight, losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can help lower your triglycerides, according to mayoclinic.com. The best approach to take is to reduce your daily intake by 500 calories. Because 3,500 calories is equivalent to one pound, this can promote one pound of weight loss a week.


Alcohol has a major effect on the nervous system and liver. Moderate amounts of alcohol have been known to lower cholesterol levels, but this is not the case with triglycerides. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to large shifts in plasma triglyceride levels, according to the American Heart Association. Avoid alcohol altogether to lower your triglyceride levels.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help raise HDL levels and lower LDL levels, and is especially important for those with raised triglyceride and/or reduced HDL levels who are overweight, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The acronyms HDL and LDL stand for high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein. The LDL level is the bad type of cholesterol, and HDL is good. Perform at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and do something you like, such as running, biking, swimming, weight training, elliptical training, hiking or playing tennis.

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