High cholesterol has taken most of the attention from cardiologists for years, but scientists have revealed that having high triglycerides is a much more important indicator of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol. Even if you have low cholesterol levels, having high triglycerides, which are a kind of fat found in your blood, can triple your risk of heart disease and stroke. They are actually important because they provide energy to the body but when triglyceride levels become too high, the body begins to store them as fat and it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, there are several ways to lower your triglyceride levels if they tend to be high.
How to Lower Triglyceride Levels
1. Lose Weight
Exercise has a significant impact on triglyceride levels. If you’re overweight, losing 5-10 percent of your body weight will lower your triglycerides by about 20 percent. Moreover, exercise is the best way to keep your weight under control. You can lower your triglycerides by up to 10-20% by doing moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise. You can also go walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, or biking, try classes in yoga, spinning, pilates, or weight training.
2. Control Your Calorie Intake
Give close attention to how many calories you consume in a day and if you can cut back, reduce your daily calorie intake. One of the reasons of elevated triglyceride levels is excess weight. This is especially important for overweight or obese people. If you want to lose weight or lower your calorie intake, your doctor may prepare a special diet involving even fewer calories, but you should not go on such a diet without approval from your doctor.
3. Cut Sugar and Simple Carbohydrates
To help lower your triglycerides, you should not consume refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. You should avoid white flour, white sugar and sugary carbonated soda, candy, cakes, pastries, breads, cereals, and pasta. Moreover, you should also avoid any product which contains high-fructose corn syrup because of its inflated sugar content. You should add some healthy complex carbohydrates in your diet, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, whole grain bread, and whole wheat pasta.
4. Drink Less Alcohol
Some studies show that even small amounts of alcohol can increases triglyceride levels. It is also full of empty calories and sugar, which contribute to high triglyceride levels. Try to lower your alcohol consumption.
5. Consume Healthy Fats
Eliminate or limit your consumption of saturated fats which are found in red meat, poultry fat, butter, cheese, milk, and highly processed trans fats which are found in margarine. Instead of consuming these fats, start consuming healthier polyunsaturated fats like corn, soybean oils and monounsaturated fats like safflower, peanut, canola, walnut, flaxseed, coconut oil and olive oil. Although unsaturated fats are better for you in terms of lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, they are rich in calories. So, be careful about the amount you cook with otherwise you may gain weight.
Also, you should avoid products which include hydrogenated oils. Check the labels of products before buying them to ensure you eliminate these harmful oils. Cutting saturated fats and trans fats as many as possible from your diet can significantly lower your triglycerides.
6. Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can lower triglycerides in patients who have coronary artery disease. So you better start consuming more natural fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like those in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and trout and flax seeds, flaxseed oil, soy, legumes, dark, leafy green vegetables, grass-fed beef, avocados, and nuts. However, if you have high triglyceride levels, a good-quality omega 3 supplement can be extremely beneficial.
Although omega-3 is beneficial for you, too much omega-3 can damage your blood clotting ability. So, always ask your doctor before using omega-3 supplements.
7. Eat Plant-Based Foods
If you eat plant-based proteins (instead of red meat), your cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be decreased significantly. Dried beans, peas, and soy are great source of plant-based protein.
8. Consume Fresh Foods
Instead of consuming packaged, fast or poorly cooked foods which include lots of saturated fats, trans fats and calories, try preparing your food at home. Fresh vegetables and fruit are more beneficial for you than canned or frozen foods, which can contain hidden ingredients or fats.
Also, vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber and consuming fiber helps decrease triglyceride levels. In other words, instead of consuming sugar and other refined carbohydrates, eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains which are fiber-rich foods will also help pull the triglycerides out of your system.
9. Limit Your Fructose Intake
Although eating fresh vegetables and fruits is beneficial for your health, you should carefully consume them. Fructose is the kind of sugar that most fruits contain naturally, and is also found in honey and some kinds of table sugar. However, major source of fructose is high-fructose corn syrup. Even the fructose that is found naturally in fruit can increase triglycerides. So, if you have high triglycerides you should watch the types of fruit you eat and also you need to limit all fructose sources in order to lower your triglyceride levels.
If you are going to eat fruit, you can prefer fruits that are low in fructose such as apricots, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, avocados, and tomatoes. Also, you should avoid, or at least limit in your diet, mangoes, bananas, plantains, grapes, pears, apples, watermelon, pineapples, and blackberries which are high in fructose. Dried fruits like raisins and dates contain the most fructose.
10. Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is an important step in reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke, and also in lowering triglyceride levels. Smoking causes several cardiovascular risk factors like increased blood clotting, damage to the arteries, and worse control of lipid levels (including triglycerides) in the blood. When you quit smoking, your triglyceride levels will be dramatically lowered.
Supplements to Lower Triglyceride Levels
Taking supplements and medications can be extremely beneficial. If your triglyceride levels are very high, your doctor might recommend a supplement to reduce triglyceride levels, such as fibrates, niacin or omega-3. However, lowering triglycerides only with medications and supplements has never been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. So, be sure to watch your diet and change your lifestyle as well.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is one of the most expensive supplements. It helps lower blood sugar levels and triglyceride levels.
Research indicate that low dietary fiber is related to high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. An inexpensive and easy way to consume fiber is by taking psyllium and inulin each morning. Inulin is a prebiotic which can activate the growth of beneficial bacterias. On the other hand, psyllium is one of the natural sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. For either of these fiber sources, you better follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions and consume them with plenty of water.
Niacin is the most common nicotinic acid. Also, it is the most effective triglyceride lowering agent and it helps your bad cholesterol levels as well. Niacin supplements can be bought over the counter, but you should talk to your doctor before taking it beacuse it can interact with other medications and have dangerous side effects. Be aware of that niacin users usually experience stomach distress, itching, and headache.
Naturally consuming more omega-3 fatty acids can lower triglyceride levels, but high doses of prescription omega-3 supplements can reduce triglycerides even more effectively. Fish oil pills are the most common form of omega-3 supplements. Be aware of the symptoms of excess omega-3 consumption. People who use excess omega-3 can experience oily skin and breakouts, cravings, greasy hair and overall feeling of sluggishness.