Triglycerides are fats in the food you eat that are carried in your blood. High triglyceride levels put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease. Normal triglyceride levels are under 150 milligrams per deciliter. Levels that are borderline high are between 151 and 200, high are between 201 and 499 and very high are above 500 milligrams per deciliter. To help control high triglyceride levels, the Cleveland Clinic recommends you exercise and eat a diet low in fats, sugars, refined carbohydrates and alcohol.
Trans and Saturated Fats
Total fat should be 30 to 35 percent of your calories, with no more than 7 percent from saturated fats, the American Heart Association recommends. Saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products, raise triglycerides, so avoid eating butter, cheese and fatty meats. The Cleveland Clinic recommends staying away from trans fats altogether. Trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils that are added to foods to give them a more savory taste and texture and longer shelf life. They raise your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, which is the "bad" cholesterol related to triglyceride levels. You find trans fats in fried foods, such as french fries and doughnuts, and prepackaged baked goods including pizza and pie crusts, crackers and cookies.
Fructose, found in added sugars, may increase the amount of fats and triglycerides in your liver, Ohio State University Extension notes. Avoid adding sugar to your foods and drinking sugary beverages, such as soda, sports drinks and sweet tea. The Cleveland Clinic recommends choosing fresh fruit over fruit juice or fruit snacks and selecting cereals with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving. If you're craving dessert, try sugar-free ice cream, yogurt or pudding. Even eating too much natural sugar increases triglycerides. Limit dried fruits to 1/4 cup per day, avoid honey and don't eat more than 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables, such as mashed potatoes, yams, beans and corn, per day. Limit baked potatoes to 3 ounces.
Your body turns extra refined carbohydrates into triglycerides. Foods from these grains also lose their fiber during the refining process, and fiber can lower blood triglyceride levels. The Cleveland Clinic states refined carbohydrates are a key contributor to high triglyceride levels. Avoid foods made from enriched, bleached or refined flours, such as white bread, pasta, crackers and rice.
Your body turns extra alcohol into triglycerides and stores it in your fat cells, so drinking too much alcohol can help raise your triglyceride levels, the Cleveland Clinic states. If your levels are already high, skip alcohol altogether. If you do drink, have no more than two drinks a day if you're a man, and no more than one drink if you're a woman. One drink is 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, 4 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer, according to the American Heart Association.
- American Heart Association: Triglycerides: Frequently Asked Questions
- Cleveland Clinic: Triglycerides
- American Heart Association: Trans Fats
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
- The Ohio State University Extension: Sugar Intake Can Affect Triglycerides
- American Heart Association: Alcohol and Heart Disease