Lowering triglycerides levels
What triglycerides are and ways to reduce levels.
When getting the results of your routine blood work, have you ever been told your triglycerides were “a little” high? That recently happened to me, so I went looking for some easy answers on how I can lower that number.
Knowing what triglycerides were was a starting point for my understanding. Triglycerides are chemicals in our bodies that come from fats and carbohydrates that we eat. If they are not used for energy right away, they are stored in the fat cells in our bodies. When we need more energy between meals, these chemicals are let loose. But when too many are stored and not used, it can lead to a high blood triglyceride level and eventually to coronary artery disease. Since I don’t want heart disease, and do not want to take medications that may have serious side effects, I looked into what I could do that could make my triglyceride levels a bit lower. Even little changes, implemented regularly can make a difference. In my research I discovered:
- Lose weight. Even five or 10 percent body weight loss can make a big difference. Michigan has a program called Healthy Michigan that provides ideas about how to do this.
- Eat more fiber. Eating fewer processed carbohydrates and stocking up on more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is recommended by Michigan State University Extension. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate teaches us how we can do so.
- Limit sugar. Some of the fruits and vegetables we need for fiber can be substituted for high sugar snacks. Read the labels before eating to see if it is really a healthy snack or treat. The first few ingredients listed have the highest percentage in the recipe, so avoid sugar, corn syrups and the like.
- Limit fructose. Fructose is a type of sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is in much of our food, so again, reading the labels on what we eat can help us make healthier choices. It can be surprising how many times “fructose” is one of the first three ingredients in a product.
- Exercise. Going for three, 10 minute brisk walks most days of the week may help lower our triglyceride levels. It is recommended to exercise 30 minutes a day, but it can be broken up if time is an issue.
- Eat a moderately low-fat diet, with 25 to 35 percent of calories sourced from fat. Be aware of what kinds of fat you eat. Saturated fat found in red meat, cheese, butter, milk, coconut and palm oils should be limited. Trans fats, those found in margarine and shortening, should also be used minimally.
- Add fish to the diet. The omega-3 fatty acids we get from salmon, lake trout and tuna are high in fat that’s good for us. Try to eat fish a couple times a week.
- Limit alcohol consumption. It doesn’t matter if it’s beer, wine or liquor, alcohol increases triglyceride levels.
I know what I’m going to change to reduce my levels, do you?