Triglycerides are stored fats your body can use as energy. If you eat too many calories, your body's triglyceride reserve continues to grow. The result can be a lot of extra triglycerides stored in your fat cells and occasionally in your muscle cells. Because high triglycerides are associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease, aim to keep your triglyceride levels low.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid that functions as an energy source for your body. Your doctor can order a blood test to determine your triglyceride level. Normal triglyceride levels are under 150 milligrams per deciliter, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Borderline-high levels are between 150 and 199 milligrams per deciliter, while high levels are between 200 and 499 milligrams per deciliter. Triglycerides higher than 500 milligrams per deciliter are considered very high.
Your body stores triglycerides mainly in your fat cells. When needed, stored triglycerides can provide twice the amount of energy as protein and carbohydrates. Muscle cells can also store triglycerides as energy, but in smaller amounts.
Because oil and water don't mix, oily triglycerides cannot move around as freely in your water-filled blood. To solve this problem, your body coats triglycerides in a protein shell. The fat cells are released into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the blood, providing energy for cells when needed. Your triglyceride levels are usually highest after eating, while your body is packaging your triglycerides for energy usage. This is why your physician will ask you to fast for 12 hours before testing your blood.
Triglyceride Buildup and Sources
If your body does not need triglycerides, they continue to be stored in your cells and will not dissolve on their own. If you continue to eat foods that are converted into triglycerides, your levels will rise. Taking in extra calories will contribute to increased triglyceride levels, as will a diet high in saturated fats, such as red meats, egg yolks and whole milk. Trans fats commonly found in pre-packaged foods can also contribute to increased triglyceride levels.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.