Triglycerides are a type of fat present in the blood plasma. Along with the high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein or the cholesterols, triglycerides are part of the plasma lipid. Triglycerides occur naturally in a large number of food substances. They are also a source of fuel for the body. When we consume excess calories, above the amount needed by the body to accomplish its activities, the unspent calories are converted into triglycerides. When need arises, hormones break down the triglycerides, present in the bloodstream, to produce energy.
Elevated triglyceride levels are harmful for the human body. In normal circumstances, the triglyceride level should remain below 150mg per dl. Triglyceride levels from 150mg/dL to 199mg/dL are considered borderline high levels. In people with high triglyceride levels, the levels of the plasma lipid are between 199 and 500mg per dl, and triglyceride level above 499mg/dl is a sign of severe health problem. Your triglyceride level could be detected through a simple blood test. Accurate data could be revealed during a blood test undertaken after a nine to twelve hours fast.
Dangers of excess triglycerides
High triglyceride level is known as hypertriglyceridemia. People diagnosed with hypertriglyceridemia have a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease. Although eating excess carbohydrate and fats tend to elevate the triglyceride levels in the bloodstream, several other health factors are also linked to higher levels on the plasma lipid. Untreated type 2 diabetes might push up the triglyceride level in the blood. High triglyceride levels are frequently associated with poor thyroid function or hypothyroidism. People diagnosed with kidney or liver ailments usually have high levels of triglycerides.
Certain rare genetic conditions impair conversion of fat into energy, leading to abnormally high levels of triglycerides in the blood. High triglyceride level could be the side effects of certain medications. Diuretics, oral contraceptives, steroid, beta-blockers and certain breast cancer drugs might raise the triglyceride level in the blood. High triglycerides along with high blood pressure, insulin resistance diabetes, excess abdominal fat and unhealthy levels of HDL and LDL cholesterols are signs of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome comprises of certain conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Ways to lower triglycerides
Fortunately, you can bring down your unhealthy triglyceride level by modifying your diet and lifestyle. According to the American Heart Association, replacing saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats, regular workouts and shedding the excess body weight could halve the triglyceride level in the bloodstream.
People who are obese or overweight should cut down their total calorie intake. Reduce all sources of calories including carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your daily diet. Presence of excess sugar or simple carbohydrates in your diet not only raises your body weight, but it even increases your triglyceride level. If you fail to burn the extra calories, the unused calories are converted into triglycerides. The carbohydrate in your diet should comprise primarily of complex carbs such as whole grain products and vegetables. Men and women diagnosed with high triglycerides should limit their daily calorie intake from added sugar or refined carbohydrates to 150 calories and 100 calories per day respectively. Do not include more than 100 grams of fructose, a simple sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and several processed foods, in your daily diet.
Foods containing saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol are linked to high triglyceride levels. To reduce your triglyceride level, replace these unhealthy fats with mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Not more than seven per cent of your daily calorie requirement should be met with saturated fats. People without cardiovascular disease should limit their total saturated fat or cholesterol consumption to 300mg per day, whereas heart patients should consume less than 200mg of saturated fats daily. You can lower your triglyceride level by avoiding or limiting consumption of red meat, egg yolk and whole milk dairy products. Trans fats are extremely harmful for your health. Limit your trans fat intake to less than one per cent of your total calorie requirement.
Coldwater fish and fish oil are beneficial for people with high triglycerides. The omega-3 fats could improve your lipid profile. Unsaturated fats present in olive oil, canola oil and liquid margarine could be included in the diet of people with high triglycerides. Alcoholic beverages could boost your triglyceride level. Even small amounts of alcohol could trigger triglyceride synthesis. You can bring down your triglyceride level naturally by loading your meals with fruits and vegetables. Choose low fructose fruits such as banana, grapefruit, peaches, berries and cantaloupe.
Regular workouts for about 30 to 45 minutes daily could normalize your triglyceride level. By burning the excess calories through physical activities, you can naturally reduce the triglyceride content in your blood. According to the American Heart Association people diagnosed with borderline to high triglyceride levels should exercise at least for 150-minute each week. You can include moderate workouts including brisk walking, jogging, swimming and aerobics in your workout routine. Studies have shown that regular physical activities could reduce the triglyceride levels by almost 30 per cent.
Drugs and supplements
Niacin or vitamin B3 is linked to lower triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein levels. Niacin supplements might be beneficial for people with elevated triglycerides. However, it is advisable to take this vitamin B supplement under the supervision of your physician. Niacin overdose could produce harmful side effects. The supplements might interact with certain medications. Usually, 500mg of niacin in supplements could be safely consumed. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements such as fish oil pills might decrease your triglyceride level. Several studies have shown that pantethine, a byproduct of vitamin B5, could lower the triglyceride level. To normalize your triglyceride level you can take three-hundred milligrams of pantethine, thrice a day.
In traditional Persian medicine, an herb known as Achillea wilhelmsii is recommended for treating elevated triglyceride level. Fenugreek seeds could improve your lipid profile. In addition, fenugreek could bring down the blood sugar level, a prominent cause of high triglycerides. Including more than four cups of tea in your diet could reduce the triglyceride levels. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners use Guggul for treating hypertriglyceridemia.