If your triglyceride levels are high and above the normal desirable range, you are living in the “danger” zone. The reason for this is that you are at high risk of developing certain complications that can put your life in danger.
These complications include a heart attack, stroke and more. These dangers arise due to atherosclerosis that forms because of high triglycerides levels in the blood.
It, therefore, becomes a top priority to lower the triglycerides as quickly as possible. And, doing it naturally without medicines should be the first option.
- Ideally, triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl.
- If they are between 150 to 200 mg/dl, you are in the borderline high category.
- Anything above 200 mg/dl is classified as high.
- Very high is indicated when your trigs are more than 500 mg/dl.
- The higher your levels are the higher mounts the risk.
Lowering your triglycerides by natural means without drugs is always the first option exercised by your doctor – unless your triglyceride levels are very high and/or you are harboring factors that put you at a high risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Triglycerides can be brought down naturally without medication by following certain guidelines. These include:
- A healthy lifestyle
- A healthy diet that will help to reduce cholesterol
- Regular aerobic exercises
These tips will not only help lower your triglycerides but also reduce your LDL, the bad cholesterol and sugar, if you are diabetic.
They will further help to increase your HDL, the good cholesterol. All this will help keep your heart and overall health in a robust state.
Treatment with medicines is indicated when the triglyceride levels are too high or even when the doctor, after evaluating the patient, feels that the risks of complications are high.
Otherwise, with not very high levels of triglycerides, these three guidelines can help you reduce your triglyceride within the normal range without any medicines.
Having clarified that, let us look at the measures that you should religiously follow to bring down your triglycerides as soon as possible:
Smoking raises triglycerides and lowers HDL, the good cholesterol. Both these factors increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Incidentally, smoking kills more people from heart disease than from lung cancer.
Smoking contains toxins, which when absorbed in the blood cause damage to the inner surface of the smooth arterial wall.
This roughens the smooth surface and makes it easier for the excess LDL cholesterol to get deposited and on the walls and form plaques. This process is called atherosclerosis and it narrows the lumen of the arteries and reduces blood flow.
Stopping your smoking will increase the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels and improve the health of your heart. According to the American Heart Association, quitting smoking can increase HDL cholesterol levels by up to 20 percent.
Stop or limit alcohol intake
In most individuals, mild to moderate consumption of alcohol hardly has any effect on the triglyceride levels. But, in some sensitive individuals, even one drink can send the levels soaring.
Alcohol abuse, however, can have a disastrous effect and can give you high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is beset with life-threatening complications.
Alcohol can send your triglyceride levels very high as much as 500 mg/dl or even higher. Such levels make you very prone to develop pancreatitis. Heavy alcohol consumption and high triglycerides just don’t mix.
For mild to moderate increase in triglyceride levels, limit alcohol consumption per day to two pegs for men and one peg for women. (One peg = 60 ml). Again, men should not exceed 5 drinks per week and women not more than 3 drinks per week.
Alcohol is a major source of empty calories which get converted into fat quickly, thereby raising your triglyceride levels. It has also been known to prevent burning of fats.
If you carry any excess amount of pounds, get rid of them and maintain an optimum weight. Losing weight is an exhaustive topic and cannot be explained in a paragraph or two.
You could, however, read the following posts and follow the advice therein. It will help you to lose weight as quickly as possible.
If you are diabetic or hypertensive or have high cholesterol, follow the necessary restrictions and medical advice.
Excess weight does contribute to elevated triglycerides. Losing even 5–10 lbs can prove beneficial and improve your TG.
- 3,500 calories gained or lost = 1 pound weight gain or loss.
- For example: To lose 1 lb per week, lose 500 calories/day or eat 200 fewer calories and increase activity by 300 kcal/day.
Diet to lower triglycerides
Reduce your calorie intake
Triglycerides are a type of fat. You consume them from certain foods such as butter and oil, and your body also converts calories into triglycerides — calories obtained from alcohol or from the simple carbohydrates, which are present in sugary foods. Therefore, restricting your calorie intake is essential especially if your levels are high.
The American Heart Association recommends that only 5 percent of your calorie come from sugary foods such as soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages,
Carbohydrates and Sugar
Reduce your intake of simple sugars and refined foods. This is because anything that increases blood glucose levels will increase blood triglyceride levels. The reason being that it is the increase in carbohydrates that causes the conversion of glucose into triglycerides (fats).
Choose the right carbohydrates in your foods. Limit simple carbohydrates and eat more of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Simple carbohydrates break down into sugar quickly and cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
- Limit simple sugar intake to 1–2 servings/week
- 1 serving = 100 calories
- Examples of simple sugars include: Corn syrup, sweetened soft drinks, candy, baked goods, jam/ jelly, and honey
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are slowly absorbed and digested and therefore, the release of sugar into the bloodstream is gradual, thereby preventing any sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
For knowing what to avoid and what carbohydrates to eat or if you have an associated diabetes condition, do read diet for diabetes patients.
High triglyceride levels are usually accompanied by increased LDL cholesterol values. Your risk is doubled. It is, therefore, necessary to keep a watch on cholesterol content of your foods.
Know what fats to eat. Avoid Trans fats and saturated fats. Eat more of unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This is very important for reducing triglycerides.
Add omega-3 fatty acids
Certain fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, lake trout, and tuna are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These are a type of fats that are actually healthy for you. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat these types of fish at least twice a week.
List of foods for lowering triglycerides
Going to the links mentioned above will guide you to choose specifically, the right foods to incorporate into your diet in order to reduce your triglycerides.
The triglyceride diet will also tell you what foods you should avoid. They are not different from each other and will tell you, in short, the following:
Choose High Fiber Carbohydrates
- Choose whole grains and cereals for their high fiber carbohydrate content.
- Avoid refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and pasta, which can raise triglycerides more than whole grain and high fiber products.
- Choose whole wheat products and include oat bran for fiber
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Have 4–6 serving of fruits and vegetables/day preferably fresh with no added sugars.
- Drink half a cup of fruit juice every day.
- Serving size defined as 1 medium apple = 1 serving; 1/2 cup steamed vegetables = 1 serving; 1 cup raw vegetables = 1 serving
- Have only non-fat or low-fat milk and milk products.
Choose unsaturated fat — the good fats
- Use monounsaturated fats — canola, olive or peanut oil.
- Examples of one serving: 1 teaspoon oil, 1 tablespoon (TBS) walnuts, almonds, peanuts; 1 TBS reduced fat peanut butter or 2 tsp regular peanut butter
- Include Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your diet: Eat 2–3 servings per week of “cold water” fish—salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel; one serving = 3 ounces after cooking
- Have ground flax seed, flax seed oil, nuts and fish oil capsules
- If you have an associated condition or even otherwise, to prevent a heart attack, read diet for a healthy heart.
- Avoid red meat and eat fish and chicken without skin.
- Use olive oil or canola oil in your cooking.
- Eat grilled, baked or roasted. If you have to fry, use minimal of the oils mentioned above.
- Eating one or two cloves of crushed raw garlic every day with meals will be great to lower high triglyceride levels.
- Read natural remedies to lower cholesterol. These natural remedies are time proven and have helped people reduce their cholesterol and triglyceride levels without any medication or at least have helped to lower the doses of medicines.
- Know and avoid foods high in triglycerides. (linked above)
Exercises for lowering triglycerides
Before you start your exercise program to reduce triglycerides, you must consult your doctor about your health condition and find out if it is safe to start your exercise.
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, 5 days a week.
However, 60 minutes of moderate physical activity seven days a week will bring about better and faster results. You can break up the activity into two or even three segments in a day.
Exercise uses up the calories helping you to lose weight and burns up the triglycerides for energy.
Exercise daily to burn calories. Even brisk walking for 30 minutes will be great. Have a goal of 10,000 steps per day. Use a pedometer to help you quantify your activity level.
Aerobic exercises of moderately intense activity such as walking, jogging, and swimming will benefit you in the following ways:
- Lower total cholesterol
- Reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol
- Lower triglycerides
- Increase levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. This is a very critical factor in preventing heart disease.
- Maintain ideal body weight
Here are some examples of moderate physical activity for healthy adults;
- Brisk walking at 3–4 mph for 30–40 minutes
- Swimming— for 20 minutes
- Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
- Volleyball for 45 minutes
- Moderate lawn mowing with a powered mower for 30 minutes
- Basketball for 15–20 minutes
- Golf—pulling a cart or carrying clubs
- Social dancing with music for 30 minutes
The frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise are very important to lower and control triglyceride levels. You could read ACSM guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. (ACSM – American College of Sports Medicine)