What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in the bloodstream. The body converts excess calories into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, you are more likely to have high triglycerides.
What are the risks?
Elevated triglyceride levels may increase your risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although it is unclear how, high triglycerides may contribute to atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the arteries. High triglycerides also are a contributing risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
What causes high triglycerides?
- Poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes
- Diet high in simple carbohydrates, like sugar, sweet baked goods and soft drinks
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic kidney failure
- Liver disease
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, beta blockers, tamoxifen, diuretics, estrogen replacement, birth control pills
- Genetic abnormalities in lipid processing
What are the symptoms of high triglycerides?
Usually there are no symptoms of high triglycerides. If there is a genetic cause, visible fatty deposits (xanthomas) under the skin may occur. In rare cases, inflammation of the pancreas may occur, causing severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fever.
What is the recommended triglyceride level?
- Normal: under 150 mg/dl
- Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dl
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dl
- Very high: higher than 500 mg/dl
How can I reduce my triglyceride level?
- Maintain a normal weight with a waist circumference of no more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.
- Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week, such as brisk walking, swimming or biking.
- Omit sugary foods from your diet, such as cookies, soft drinks and candy.
- Avoid eating too many carbohydrates, such as white breads, crackers, pastas, chips and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.
- Eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, which include fatty fishes, walnuts, almonds, green leafy vegetables, flaxseed and olive oils. Pharmaceutical-grade fish oil can be prescribed to reduce triglyceride levels. Discuss supplements with your physician.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. Even small amounts of alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
If these lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control your triglycerides, medications may
be prescribed by your physician.
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