Triglycerides serve as an excellent indicator for risk of heart disease. What exactly are they and how can you manage them for better health?
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are stored in your fat cells and are released by hormones for energy between meals. People with diabetes are at greater risk for high triglycerides; since diabetics have high levels of glucose and insulin, the liver tends to become oversaturated quickly and a large amount of fatty acids go into the bloodstream.High triglycerides tend to lower the amount of HDL cholesterol (also known as good cholesterol) in the body, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Additionally, and very importantly, individuals with elevated triglycerides are more likely to experience episodes of pancreatitis, also known as inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can progress slowly or rapidly and often times results in hospitalization with a multiple day stay with IV fluids and antibiotics instead of a diet of any type.
What causes high triglycerides?
Consuming a diet high in carbohydrates, especially fruits, dairy, breads, cereals, and alcohol, increases your triglyceride levels. The diet of a person with elevated triglycerides is typically low in fiber and vegetables and high in processed foods. A balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, fiber and less than 30 percent of calories from fat can help lower triglyceride levels.
Additionally, ensuring adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been scientifically shown to reduce triglyceride levels. Consuming cold-water fish like salmon, albacore tuna and ground flaxseed provides omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil capsules and freshly ground flax seeds offer an easy way to consume fatty acids efficiently.
Modifying the diet to include copious amounts of fiber (30-50 grams/day, including 10 grams of soluble fiber), 2 to 8 cups of vegetables per day, omega-3 fatty acids (1-4 grams/day) and ensuring an overall balanced dietare the primary ways to keep triglycerides within normal levels.
Lastly, and not diet-related, exercise also helps reduce triglyceride levels. So get started!
Medication also exists; talk to your physician about your medication options.