We all know that elevated levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and high blood pressure are a threat to heart health. But when it comes to a healthy heart, triglycerides must not be forgotten, as they are an important indicator of the health of this vital organ.
Triglycerides are fats, necessary for the maintenance of human life, found in the foods we consume daily. When eaten, it converts excess calories that the body does not consume immediately into triglycerides. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells in the body if they are needed later in a food deficit.
No matter how good triglycerides are for our body, the high value can deteriorate our health, as it can lead to atherosclerosis which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
What causes high levels of triglycerides in the blood?
Triglyceride levels depend primarily on lifestyle, diet and calorie intake. There are certain factors that increase the likelihood of a rise in the value of triglycerides in the blood. Here’s who they are:
- Obesity, especially in the abdomen;
- Hypothyroidism – decreased the function of the thyroid gland;
- Frequently eating more calories than you consume;
- Excessive alcohol consumption;
- Kidney and Liver Diseases;
- Uncontrolled diabetes;
- Age. As the years progress, the triglyceride level slowly increases;
- Physical inactivity.
- In rare cases, this condition can be hereditary.
What is a normal triglyceride level?
A blood test may reveal the value of triglycerides in your blood. You should not eat for 8-12 hours before the lab test itself. Here’s what values are normal that indicate you need to make significant lifestyle changes:
- Normal value: less than 150 mg / dL (less than 1.7 mmol / L)
- Higher value: 150–199 mg / dL (1.7–2.3 mmol / L)
- High value: 200–499 mg / dL (2.3–5.6 mmol / L)
- Very high value: 500 mg / dL and up (5.7 mmol / L and up)
It is recommended that anyone over the age of 20 make a blood count at least once every 5 years.
How to lower triglycerides in the blood?
Do not panic immediately if you find that you have high triglycerides or too much fat in your bloodstream. The good news is that you can greatly improve your blood picture through healthy lifestyle changes. Here’s what you can do to restore triglycerides back to normal:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight, especially obesity, can significantly increase triglycerides. After reducing weight by only 5-10%, a decrease in triglycerides can be observed.
- Limit the number of calories you consume. Delicious birthday cakes, favorite pizza or spicy chips before bedtime may look tempting, but they undoubtedly lead to elevated triglycerides. Remember that excess calories are converted into triglycerides and stored in the body as fat. Reducing your calorie intake by 300 a day can reduce your triglyceride count by 23%.
- Replace minced meat with fish. The biggest culprits for high triglyceride levels are sweet sugars rich in fat and foods high in saturated fat such as processed red meat. Therefore, persons with increased triglycerides are not recommended to consume products such as minced meat, pate, and sausages. The next time you have to choose what meat to put on the table, choose fish instead of pork. This will nourish the body with fats that are healthy for the heart.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseed, regularly. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only healthy for your heart, but they can also help you fight triglycerides. Fish, nuts, flaxseed, and flaxseed are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat fish at least twice a week. It is recommended to consume salmon, sardines and lake trout.
- Limit the amount of sugar consumed. If you have elevated triglyceride levels, control your sweetie. It is advisable to avoid foods made with added sugar, such as cakes, pastries, hard candies, and ice cream. Be careful how much sugar you put in to sweeten drinks such as coffee and tea or the dishes you prepare. Learn to read labels to find the hidden sugar in products. Always choose sugar-free chewing gums.
- Include moderate physical activity in your daily routine. Moderate physical activity in five or more days a week can help lower blood triglyceride levels by 20-30%. It doesn’t have to be intense fitness training, but you can opt for a 30-minute walk at a moderate pace. Physical activity is especially important for maintaining healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking. Quitting this harmful habit can reduce your triglycerides. Keep in mind that winning over this vice also means improving your “bad” cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of many other smoking-related illnesses.
- Be sure to reduce alcohol, and if triglyceride levels are too high, completely quit. While antioxidants in red wine can lower your cholesterol, excessive alcohol consumption is one of the underlying causes of high triglyceride levels. Drinking more than one glass of alcohol a day for women and more than two for men can significantly increase triglycerides. In some people, even the smallest amount of alcohol can raise triglycerides, so if your blood count is too high, quit alcohol altogether.
- Replace carbonated drinks and fruit juices with a healthier alternative. Go for carbonated drinks and replace fruit juices with 100% natural juices, but don’t overdo them. Juices have a negative effect on triglyceride levels. The best option is to switch to teas and non-carbonated water to quench your thirst.