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Diet to Lower Triglycerides

Diet to Lower Triglycerides

Similar to cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides too can lead to heart diseases. A low-fat, low-carb diet plan is prescribed to lower triglyceride levels.
Anju Shandilya
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Increased level of triglycerides increases the risks of heart disease and pancreatic diseases. It is very important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to maintain the level of triglycerides and cholesterol in the body. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry clearly states that a diet that is high in carbohydrates, especially sugar leads to an increased triglyceride levels in the body. This is because the excess calories present in the body are converted into fat, especially triglycerides.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a form of fat that are found in both, plant and animal sources of fat. They are found in the bloodstream and are utilized by the cells to provide energy to our body. The food that we eat contains calories which, when consumed, is converted into energy. The calories that are not used by the body are immediately converted into triglycerides. They are stored in the fat cells and are released by hormones in-between meals. Triglycerides are extremely important for the body to carry out normal functioning. But elevated triglyceride levels result in hardening of the arteries and thickening of the artery walls. This increases the risk of several cardiovascular ailments such as heart attack, stroke and heart diseases.

Effect of Diet on Triglycerides

Guidelines for Triglyceride Levels
Normal: Under 150 mg/dl
Borderline High: 151 - 200 mg/dl
High: 201 - 499 mg/dl
Very High: 500 mg/dl or higher

Your body develops high levels if you consume more fat than what is required by the body. Although fats are necessary for the body to carry out various activities, eating too much fat, especially the wrong type of fats, i.e., saturated and trans fats, results in elevated levels of triglycerides. The logical conclusion that can be drawn, here, is that following a low-fat diet will considerably decrease elevated triglyceride levels. But fats are not the only culprits. High levels are observed mainly due to over-consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Over-consumption of alcohol is another reason. Hence, you are at a greater risk if your diet includes consumption of too much fat, diet sodas, artificial sweeteners and carbs.

Dietary Modifications

Here are some modifications that you can introduce in your diet, so as to lower your triglyceride levels:

Meat
When it comes to picking up meat, fish is the best option. Pacific salmon, sardines, and haddock are the best bets. Shellfish, though high in cholesterol is low in saturated fat and should be used sparingly. Next, you can opt for lean meats like chicken, turkey, veal and non-fatty cuts of beef, with the excess fat trimmed away. But ensure that you do not consume more than one serving of meat per week. Also, all meat and fish should be either broiled in a pan or oven, or can be baked, before being consumed. All kinds of pork like ham, bacon and chops and shellfish like lobsters and clamps should be completely avoided. You can also consume two egg yolks per week.

Veggies
The amount of veggies that can be consumed is not limited. String beans, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and celery are recommended daily. Whereas, veggies high in sugar such as corn, carrots, beets, potatoes should be avoided. Further, it is always advisable to steam the vegetables, but they can also be boiled or shallow fried in unsaturated vegetable oil.

Fruits
Ensuring that you include three servings of fruit in your diet, daily, will go a long way in lowering elevated triglyceride levels. Include a minimum of one citrus fruit daily. And while consuming canned or frozen fruits, ensure that it does not contain any syrup or added sweeteners.

Grains
Prefer consuming whole grain foods such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Keep refined carbohydrates like white breads and cereal to a minimum. You can choose whole grain oats, barley and wheat instead. Popcorn and whole wheat crackers can be consumed for snacks.

Fats
Yes! You need fats just as much as other nutrients. Make Omega-3 fatty acids a part of your regular diet as they too help control the level of triglycerides in the body. Try consuming foods, that are high in Omega-3, like flaxseed, almonds, walnuts and oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel. Cod-liver oil is another good source of Omega-3.

Oils
Oil plays a major role in increasing the triglyceride levels in your body. But vegetable oils like sunflower, olive, soybean, corn and cottonseed oil can be used since these are high in unsaturated fats and are safe to consume.

Alcohol
It is vital to keep in mind that alcohol chemically is nothing but fermented sugar. When alcohol is present in the body, the liver prioritizes removing the alcohol over processing glucose. As a result, when the liver is removing alcohol from the body, the sugar is further processed into triglycerides.

Beverages
Amongst all the beverages that you consume, ensure that sugar is substituted appropriately. Ensure that the milk you drink is low-fat. Avoid adding cream to coffee, and prefer herbal or plain tea. But at the end of the day, the best beverage that you can drink is water which will not only avoid elevating the triglyceride levels but will provide several other benefits as well.

At the end of the day, make sure that you exercise regularly. Giving up on smoking will also go a long way in reducing the levels of triglycerides in your body. Use a Body Mass Index calculator to find out if you have a healthy body weight. If not, then you may have to aim on losing excess weight. And even if you manage to get your triglycerides level under control, make sure that you continue to exercise and regulate your diet.

Disclaimer: The above article is solely for informative purposes and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject. Always consult a dietitian/nutritionist before starting any restrictive diet.