Like cholesterol, triglycerides are a kind of fat that circulates through the body in the bloodstream. Triglycerides store calories that are later used for energy. However, high levels of triglycerides are correlated with increased risk of heart disease. Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered a normal level, according to the Mayo Clinic website. A level of 150 to 199 mg/dL is borderline high, while 200 mg/dL and above is considered high. Mayo Clinic states that the same diet and lifestyle changes that help lower cholesterol and improve general health will help lower triglycerides.
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Limit Fat and Cholesterol
Mayo Clinic’s dietary recommendations for lowering triglycerides and cholesterol emphasize reducing or eliminating foods containing saturated fat, trans-fats and cholesterol. Saturated fat comes from most animal products, so choose only the leanest cuts of meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Trans-fats are present in fried and baked goods and in any product that lists partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient.
Reduce Sugar Consumption
Foods made with white flour or refined sugar, according to Mayo Clinic, raise triglycerides. Additionally, any calories in excess of those you use per day are stored as triglycerides. Sugar consumption adds calories to your diet with little or no nutritional benefit. Eliminating sugary foods from your diet and reducing calorie consumption will help lower triglyceride levels.
Substitute Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fats contribute to healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced risk of heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic. While the recommended daily fat intake is 25 to 35 percent of total calories, no more than 10 percent of those calories should come from saturated fats found in meat and dairy products. Substitute foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, including fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring; olive, peanut and canola oil; and almonds, walnuts and flaxseed.
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables offer several health advantages, according to Mayo Clinic. Fiber helps carry lipids away from artery walls, preventing arteriosclerosis. Sterols and stanols found in food from plant sources contribute to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Finally, fiber-rich foods are high in nutrients and low in calories, giving you more dietary benefit and reducing the desire to overeat. Since maintaining a healthy weight is critical in lowering triglycerides, Mayo Clinic recommends including plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
High triglyceride levels are associated with excessive use of alcohol. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. However, since even moderate alcohol use can increase triglyceride levels, abstaining is the better choice.
As with any new diet or exercise regimen, consult your health care professional for specific advice before initiating new practices.