Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and women with unhealthy lifestyles are at risk for high triglycerides and heart disease. A healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity can help lower high triglyceride levels and help prevent obesity, a risk factor for high triglycerides and other chronic conditions.
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According to Medline Plus, a normal triglyceride value for women is less than 150 mg/dL. A value of 150-199 mg/dL is borderline high and 200-499 mg/dL is considered high. A triglyceride value of 500 mg/dL or above is very high.
While food provides calories which the body uses for energy, unused calories are converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Stored triglycerides can be used between meals for energy. However, according to the AHA, regularly consuming more calories than necessary can lead to high triglyceride levels, sometimes referred to as hypertriglyceridemia.
Medline Plus says risk factors for hypertriglyceridemia include obesity, cirrhosis, an unbalanced diet, genetics, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, pancreatitis and uncontrolled diabetes. It can also be caused by a high-fat diet, drinking too much alcohol and certain medications.
Women with hypertriglyceridemia have an increased risk of heart disease due to atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the hardening or thickening of arteries. High triglycerides are also related to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.
According to the University of Wisconsin, overweight women with high triglycerides can benefit from even a small weight loss. Losing 5-10 pounds can lower triglycerides and improve overall energy and health. The healthiest and most effective way to lose weight is to reduce total calorie intake and increase physical activity. Naturally low-calorie foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins like skinless chicken breast, fish, beans and soy products.
Women trying to lose weight and those with hypertriglyceridemia should cut back on calories, fat, sugar, cholesterol and alcohol. Eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less animal products will help reduce fat and cholesterol intake. Reduce saturated and trans-fats like butter, lard, shortening, margarine, partially-hydrogenated oils, coconut and palm oil, fat from meat, chicken skin and cream. Healthier fats are unsaturated like olive oil and fat from avocado, nuts and fish.
Foods with added sugars like candy, dessert and soda raise triglycerides and are high in calories. Alcohol is also high in calories and sugar and even small amounts of alcohol can raise triglycerides. A good rule of thumb for all women is to eat more fresh foods and less processed and fast foods to support normal triglycerides, a healthy weight and overall health.
According to federal dietary guidelines, women on a weight loss plan should aim for 60-90 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. As little as 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week can support normal triglycerides and lower high triglycerides. Women who are unable to exercise for 30 minutes at one time can still benefit from brief periods of physical activity multiple times throughout the day.