Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and tissues that may contribute to the hardening of your arteries. High triglycerides are linked to high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and kidney failure. Ideally, your triglyceride level should be below 150 mg/dL. If your level is higher than 200 mg/dL, changes in your diet and lifestyle may help you lower your high trigylcerides without taking medication.
Determine if there is an underlying cause for your high triglyceride levels. Liver failure, especially from alcoholism, and undiagnosed diabetes may cause elevated cholesterol levels. Certain medications may elevate triglyceride levels, as well. Work with your doctor to eliminate other possible causes before changing your diet.
Exercise at least five days a week, recommends MayoClinic.com. Physical activity reduces triglyceride levels regardless of your weight. Aim to work out 30 to 60 minutes per day. Break it down into 10 minute intervals, if you must -- small changes can yield big results -- take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk more or join a sports team or class to help you stay motivated.
Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, work with your doctor or a dietitian to design a custom meal plan you can live with and still lose weight.
Substitute unsaturated fats for trans-fat and saturated fats. The American Heart Association suggests eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or mackerel, rather than beef or pork. Also, use low-fat instead of full-fat dairy products and olive oil rather than butter.
Eliminate alcohol and quit smoking. Even small amounts of any type of alcohol may increase triglyceride levels. If you stop smoking, your good cholesterol levels increase, your blood pressure drops and your risk of heart disease decreases.
Tips and Warnings
- High cholesterol levels may be genetic. If you've made healthy changes and don't see an improvement in your triglyceride levels, look for a family history of cholesterol problems. You may need to take medication to successfully lower your triglyceride levels.