There are treatments to lower TGs is diet,
exercise and optimizing weight. A diet low in not only fats, but also
low in sugars and simple carbohydrates the white stuff potatoes,
pasta, bread helps to lower TG levels, and a routine aerobic exercise
program also helps lower TG levels. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to
lower triglyceride levels in many people.
Here are some ways to help lower
Eat fewer calories (through portion control) if you need to lose
Eat small, frequent meals and do not skip meals
Avoid late-night snacking
Lose weight if you are overweight
Participate in regular physical activity
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are foods that have been found to
be good at lowering triglycerides when you also follow the other
guidelines in this article. The fat found in fish, called omega-3
fatty acids, can help to lower triglyceride levels in many people. The
amount of omega-3 fat that is needed to lower triglycerides, your
physician may recommend that you purchase a fish oil supplement. To
get more omega-3 fats in your diet, choose two or more meals of fatty
fish each week such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, tilapia or
include plant-based forms of omega-3 in your diet, such as soy foods,
canola oil, flax seeds and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids supplements can help lower your cholesterol. You
can take over the counter supplements, or your doctor may prescribe
Lovaza, a prescription omega-3 fatty acid supplement, as a way to
lower your triglycerides. Lovaza may be taken with another
cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. If you choose to
take over-the-counter supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
could affect other medications you're taking.
Triglycerides are an important measure
of heart health. Here's why triglycerides matter and what to do if
your triglycerides are too high.
If you've been keeping an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol
levels, there's something else you might need to monitor: your
triglycerides. Having a high level of triglycerides, a type of fat
(lipid) in your blood, can increase your risk of heart disease.
However, the same lifestyle choices that promote overall health can
help lower your triglycerides, too.
A simple blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a
Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than
1.7 millimoles per L (mmol/L)
Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
Very high — 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
The American Heart Association (AHA)
recommends that a triglyceride level of 100 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) or
lower is considered "optimal." The AHA says this optimal level would
improve your heart health. However, the AHA doesn't recommend drug
treatment to reach this level. Instead, for those trying to lower
their triglycerides to this level, lifestyle changes such as diet,
weight loss and physical activity are encouraged. That's because
triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.
Your doctor will usually check for high triglycerides as part of a
cholesterol test sometimes called a lipid panel or lipid profile .
You'll have to fast for nine to 12 hours before blood can be drawn for
an accurate triglyceride measurement.
What's the difference between
triglycerides and cholesterol?
cholesterol are separate
types of lipids that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store
unused calories and provide your body with energy, and cholesterol is
used to build cells and certain hormones. Because triglycerides and
cholesterol can't dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your
body with the help of proteins that transport the lipids
Although it's unclear how, high
triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or
thickening of the artery walls (atherosclerosis) which increases the
risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. High triglycerides are
often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of
disease and stroke as well, including obesity and metabolic syndrome a
cluster of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist,
high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and abnormal
Sometimes high triglycerides are a sign
of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, low levels of thyroid hormones
(hypothyroidism), liver or kidney disease, or rare genetic conditions
that affect how your body converts fat to energy. High triglycerides
could also be a side effect of taking medications such as beta
blockers, birth control pills, diuretics, steroids or the breast
cancer drug tamoxifen.
Healthy lifestyle choices are key.
Lose weight. If you're overweight, losing 5 to 10 pounds can help
lower your triglycerides. Motivate yourself by focusing on the
benefits of losing weight, such as more energy and improved health.
Cut back on calories. Remember that extra calories are converted to
triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will reduce
triglycerides. Avoid sugary and refined foods. Simple carbohydrates,
such as sugar and foods made with white flour, can increase
Limit the cholesterol in your diet. Aim for no more than 300
milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day or less than 200 mg if you have
heart disease. Avoid the most concentrated sources of cholesterol,
including meats high in saturated fat, egg yolks and whole milk
Try saturated fat found in meats for
healthier monounsaturated fat found in plants, such as olive, peanut
and canola oils. Substitute fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as
mackerel and salmon for red meat. Eliminate trans fat. Trans fat can
be found in fried foods and commercial baked products, such as
cookies, crackers and snack cakes. But don't rely on packages that
label their foods as free of trans fat. In the United States, if a
food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can be
labeled trans fat-free. Even though those amounts seem small, they can
add up quickly if you eat a lot of foods containing small amounts of
trans fat. Instead, read the ingredients list. You can tell that a
food has trans fat in it if it contains partially hydrogenated oil.
You should lower how much alcohol you
drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly
potent effect on triglycerides. Even small amounts of alcohol can
raise triglyceride levels. Work out the best you can. Aim for at least
30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week.
Regular exercise can boost "good" cholesterol while lowering "bad"
cholesterol and triglycerides. Take a brisk daily walk, swim laps or
join an exercise group. If you don't have time to exercise for 30
minutes, try squeezing it in 10 minutes at a time. Take a short walk,
climb the stairs at work, or try some sit-ups or push-ups as you watch
If healthy lifestyle changes aren't
enough to control high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend
medications that can help further lower your triglycerides. Usually,
the focus of therapy is to lower high levels of the "bad" cholesterol
(LDL cholesterol), before addressing high triglyceride levels.
Medications to treat high cholesterol include:
Niacin, sometimes called nicotinic
acid, can lower your triglycerides and your "bad" cholesterol
(low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol). Your doctor may
prescribe a niacin supplement, such as Niaspan. Don't take
over-the-counter niacin without talking to your doctor first. Niacin
can interact with other medications and can cause dangerous side
effects if you overdose.
Fibrates. Fibrate medications, such as fenofibrate (Lofibra, TriCor)
and gemfibrozil (Lopid), can also lower your triglyceride levels.
Statins. If you also have low high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or
"good") cholesterol or high low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad")
cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins or
a combination of a statin and niacin or fibrates. Because of the risk
of side effects from statins, be sure to tell your doctor if you
experience any muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. If your
doctor prescribes medication to lower your triglycerides, take the
medication as prescribed. And remember the significance of the healthy
lifestyle changes you've made. How do foods affect triglyceride
Consuming foods high in simple sugars
significantly contributes to high triglycerides. Follow these
guidelines to limit simple sugars in your diet:
Substitute beverages like colas, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade,
Hi-C and Kool-Aid with artificially sweetened beverages labeled
“sugar-free” or “diet.”
Limit hard candies, chocolates, candy bars and gummy bears.
Avoid adding table sugar and brown sugar to hot and cold cereals.
Instead, substitute Equal, Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, Sugar Twin or Brown
Choose sugar-free gum or mints instead of the regular versions.
Try light or low-sugar syrups on pancakes and waffles.
Spread breads and crackers with no-sugar-added jelly or preserves.
Snack on whole fruit instead of fruit roll-ups and other
fruit-flavored treats When selecting cereals, limit the sugar to no
more than 8 grams per serving.
Try sugar-free gelatin and puddings instead of their regular
Choose low-sugar cookies and other desserts. Remember, these foods
are not calorie-free and may contain cholesterol-raising fats. Be
aware that desserts labeled “fat-free” usually contain more sugar and
equal calories than the full-fat varieties. Regulate your intake of
cookies, pastries, pies, cakes and granola bars. All of these foods
contain high levels of added sugar; choose them sparingly.
Reduce your intake of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, gelato, and
flavored ices - all contain high levels of sugar.
Limit your daily sugar intake to no more than 8% of your total
calories each day. That’s 24 grams for someone following a
1,600-calorie diet, or 40 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Read the ingredients list on food labels, and limit foods that
contain any of the following words (all simple sugars) as the first
few ingredients: ?Sucrose
High-fructose corn syrup
Naturally occurring sugars, when eaten
in excess, can also raise your triglyceride level.
Follow these guidelines to help limit natural sugars:
Use honey and molasses sparingly - they are both high in sugar
Choose light yogurt which use artificial sweeteners instead
of regular yogurt Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice
Limit the serving size of dried fruits to ¼ cup per day; dried fruits
contain a more concentrated source of sugar
Choose canned fruit in its own juice and strain before eating; avoid
canned fruits packed in heavy syrup
Limit your portion sizes of mashed potatoes, yams, beans, corn and
peas to ½ cup; limit baked potatoes (with skin) to about 3 ounces.
Although these starchy vegetables are a great source of fiber and
nutrients, they can contribute to high triglycerides when eaten in
Highly refined breads, cereals, rice,
pasta and crackers convert to sugar in the body much more quickly than
whole-grain varieties, which may increase your triglyceride level.
To limit refined grains:
Choose breads, crackers and cereals that contain whole grain oats,
barley, corn, rice or wheat as the first ingredient. Avoid the words
“bleached” and/or “enriched” as the first ingredient.
Try whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
Choose breads, crackers, rice and pasta with 2 or more grams of
dietary fiber per serving.
Select hot and cold cereals with 5 or more grams of dietary fiber per
Use barley, bulgur, couscous, millet or wheat berries as a side dish.
Try whole wheat crackers with soup instead of saltines.
Watching your overall portion size of
grain-based foods is a key component to triglyceride control.
1 slice of bread
2 slices of reduced-calorie bread
½ hot dog or hamburger bun
½ English muffin
½ bagel (1 ounce)
1 oz most cold cereals (¼ to 1 cup)
2 graham crackers
¾ matzoh cracker
4 slices melba toast
3 cups popped light popcorn
2 to 6 baked whole-wheat crackers
½ cup cooked cereal (including oatmeal, oat bran, cream of wheat)
Excessive intake of dietary fats, especially
saturated and trans fats, can increase your triglycerides. However,
reducing dietary fat too much may mean you are getting too much sugar
in the diet. If you have high triglycerides, follow these dietary
guidelines to reduce dietary fat: Limit your total fat intake to 30 to
35% of your total daily calories Limit saturated fat to 7% of your
total daily calories Try to avoid high trans fat foods Limit dietary
cholesterol to 200 mg daily Choose monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated fats such as canola and olive oils most often. See
your dietitian or clinician for more information on determining your
daily fat limit.