How to Calculate Triglycerides

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Triglycerides are molecules found in vegetable and animal fats. When ingested, they circulate in the blood plasma until they are stored in the body as fat and are also formed in the body through the breakdown of carbohydrates. Triglycerides have been strongly linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease or heart disease, as well as the occurrence of strokes and peripheral vascular disease. Being able to calculate triglyceride levels can help you know how to control your own.


Step 1

Take your cholesterol levels and put them into the Friedman formula, except for VLDL:

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LDL = total cholesterol - HDL - VLDL

Example: 105 = 210 - 51 - VLDL

Step 2

Rearrange the Friedman Formula so you are calculating for VLDL:

VLDL = total cholesterol - HDL - LDL

Example: VLDL = 210 - 51 - 105

Step 3

VLDL is equal to triglycerides divided by five, so substitute accordingly in the equation:

Triglycerides/5 = total cholesterol - HDL - LDL


Example: Triglycerides/5 = 210 - 51 - 105

Step 4

Add together the total on the right.

Example: Triglycerides/5 = 54

Step 5

Multiply the total on the right by five to get your triglyceride level


Example: Triglycerides = 270mg/dl

Step 6

Compare your level to the chart provided in Tips.

Example: Triglyceride level 270mg/dl = too high Discuss results with your health care professional.


Know what is too high when it comes to your own cholesterol levels: Total serum cholesterol greater than 200 mg/dL. LDL cholesterol greater than 100 mg/dL. HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL. Triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dL.


The Friedman formula is only reliable for triglyceride levels less than 400 mg/dL.

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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.