Updated: Aug 2
I have quite many clients who are detected with high levels of triglycerides in the lipid panel. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21.5% of all adults in the US have above-normal triglyceride levels. High levels of triglycerides may not cause specific symptoms, but they generally go together with both high total blood cholesterol levels and low HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. Having too many triglycerides in the bloodstream tends to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, especially if you also have high blood pressure. So, how to use foods to lower triglycerides naturally? The good news is that there are different natural ways to lower it and keep it at the optimal level.
What Are Triglycerides?
The word triglyceride means, literally, a molecule with three fatty acids bonded with a glycerol molecule. Triglycerides are a common form of lipid (fat) in the plant and animal kingdoms. In general, most of the fats in our diet contain triglycerides — including animal fat, plant-based oils, unsaturated fat, and trans-fat.
When you eat more calories than you can burn, your body stores triglycerides in the adipose tissues which turn into body fat. Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream, which allows us to detect them in blood tests.
What Causes High Triglycerides?
The two most common causes of high triglycerides are eating a high-fat diet (especially animal fats) and being obese. Other causes include liver, thyroid, or kidney diseases, diabetes, smoking alcohol, and medications like birth control pills and corticosteroids.
What Are Normal Triglyceride Levels?
Triglycerides below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood are considered normal. Anything above 150 mg/dL is considered elevated.
Normal: 50-100 mg/ dL
Borderline high: 100 to 150 mg/dL
High: above 150 mg/dL
How to Use Foods to Lower Triglycerides Naturally?
Research shows that the currently available drugs haven't shown the effectiveness to significantly lower heart attack risk or problems associated with high triglycerides.
Consider these natural remedies.
1. Eliminate All Sugars
Limiting or even eliminating sugar— including natural sweeteners like agave, honey, or maple syrup. Try natural, no-calorie sweeteners like stevia leaf or monk fruit. Although artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Nutrasweet do not affect triglyceride levels, avoid them because they carry harmful health substances.
2. Eliminate Refined Carbs
White bread, pasta, and potatoes contain starch, a carbohydrate that has a high glycemic value that can spike blood sugar and raise your triglyceride levels. Focus on eating whole grains, such as wild rice, barley, or quinoa (gluten-free is preferred), and lots of vegetables, nuts, and seeds, which contain complex carbohydrates and fiber.
3. Exercise More in Different Types
Since obesity and excess weight are linked to higher triglycerides, studies show that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training can reduce triglyceride levels and stimulate weight loss. After reviewing many studies, scientists gave these specific recommendations: increase your physical activity to more than 30 minutes per day five times per week combined with moderate to high-intensity resistance training.
4. Avoid Saturated Fat & Trans Fat
Avoid animal fat and trans fat. Animal-based food such as red meat, butter, and cheese contains mostly saturated fat and is linked to higher triglyceride levels. Also, when vegetable oils are solidified through hydrogenation (margarine or shortening), they also become "trans-fat" and function similarly to animal fat.
5. Reduce (or Eliminate) Alcohol
Not only does alcohol provide calories with no nutritive value, but it also causes damage to the digestive system and also raises triglyceride levels. The extra calories from alcohol get converted quickly into fat and stored in the body.
6. Lose Weight
Losing weight lowers triglycerides because your body burns fat for energy, and the extra gets eliminated.
7. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
8. Recommended Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids
Black cumin seed oil
Jenny Noland, MS, CNS, CNGS, CKNS, LDN, MBA
Functional Nutritionist in Eugene, Oregon
Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist
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