Triglycerides are the fats found in your blood and the storage form of fat in your body. Generally, triglycerides are used for energy, but too many triglycerides in the body increase your risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education program recommends a triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter or less when measured after an overnight fast.
Alcohol can raise triglyceride levels. If you have high triglycerides, you may consider cutting out alcohol all together. The recommended amount of alcohol consumption per day is no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men. A drink is considered a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 2-ounce shot of spirits. Watch out for mixers, like margarita or daiquiri mix, because these can contain a significant amount of sugar.
Since triglycerides contain a glycerol or sugar molecule, carbohydrates are needed for the body to make triglycerides. Excess consumption of high-sugar foods such as pastries, candy, cakes and pies can result in an increased triglyceride level. Too many high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, energy drinks or even white bread and pasta can raise triglycerides. Instead choose whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Limit your consumption of high-sugar drinks.
Depending on the type, fat can either lower or increase your triglyceride levels. It is important to reduce overall intake of trans and saturated fats, which raise triglycerides. Processed foods such as margarine may contain trans fats. High-fat cuts of red meat, such as prime rib and bacon, are high in saturated fat. Choose chicken, lean red meat and fish instead. Omega-3s, a fat found in fatty fish such as salmon, can actually help lower triglycerides. Consider an omega-3 supplement if you do not eat fish at least twice a week.
Weight Loss and Exercise
A moderate weight loss of just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your triglycerides. This is especially important in people with abdominal obesity, as belly fat can lead to higher triglycerides. Exercise can also help burn off excess fat, lowering triglyceride levels. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five times per week can have a variety of health benefits. Get out there and go for a fast-paced walk.
Ana Johnson is a registered dietitian with professional experience in clinical nutrition, weight loss and medical nutrition therapy. She has also covered nutrition for various online publications, including Smarty Pants Vitamins and HUM Nutrition. Johnson holds a Master of Science in clinical nutrition.