What are triglycerides?

Simply put Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood. Do you get routine blood tests done regularly? if so then you will notice that the ‘fat’ or lipid tests are carried out the results will include different forms of cholesterol (LDL and HDL) and also Triglycerides.

I always like to describe these three types of fat as the good, the bad and the ugly — the good cholesterol (HDL), which acts as a maintenance crew for our veins and arteries. HDL scrubs the walls of our arteries keeping them healthy. It will also reduce the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL). LDL builds up in our arteries and can end up causing blockages. These blockages are what cause heart attacks, and strokes amongst other problems caused by too much fat in our blood.

Triglycerides may be the easiest to understand.

Simply put, they are fat in the blood. They are used to give energy to your body. If you have extras, they are stored in different places in case they are needed later.

Cholesterol and fat levels in blood
Total cholesterol is made up of: HDL, LDL and Triglycerides

Triglycerides and cholesterol are different types of fats.

  • Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.
  • Cholesterol is the bulding block of our cells and certain hormones.

Understanding what triglycerides are

After you eat a snack or a meal, your body breaks down the fats found in your food. It will combine these fats with protein and cholesterol and then release them into our blood as triglycerides. In fact if you look at your blood after a calorie dense meal your blood will appear milky in consistency. This happens because of the triglycerides being released into your blood stream

If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you may have high triglyceride levels.

Blood triglyceride levels are normally high after you eat. This is why you are usually asked to fast for 12 hours after before you have you get a blood test done.

“High” or “very high” levels of this type of fat can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease,

High triglyceride levels can cause several conditions. These conditions include obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and even inflammation of the pancreas. These can put a person at an unusually high risk of heart disease.

There are some cases where you can get high triglyceride levels as a side effect of some medication and in a few cases it can also be genetic.

I will however discuss ways of reducing triglycerides for those people who have high levels because of a poor diet and lack of exercise.

What’s the best way to lower triglycerides?

Healthy lifestyle choices are extremely important:

  • Exercise regularly. Try and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. Regular exercise can lower triglycerides and boost “good” cholesterol. Try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily tasks — for example, climb the stairs at work or take a walk during breaks, walk to the grocery store or join fitness classes in your locality. If you’re out of shape, start slowly. Begin with a quick walk three times a week and then build up from there.
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eating foods high in sugar and too many carbs can also increase your triglycerides so try and limit how much you take. Learn to read food labels properly.
  • Lose weight. Extra calories become triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will lower triglycerides.
  • Choose healthier fats. Trade saturated fat found in meats for healthier fat found in plants, such as olive and canola oils. Boost your intake of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You can find these kinds of ‘good fats’ in olive oil and several nuts. Studies have found that the omega-3s in fatty fish — like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines — are particularly good at lowering triglyceride levels. Because even healthy fats are high in calories, you still need to eat these foods in moderation.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar. If you have severe hypertriglyceridemia, avoid drinking any alcohol.
  • Eat more fibre. Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables and grains. Other good fibre sources are nuts and legumes. When you eat more fibre your body will absorb less fat and sugar from the small intestine during digestion. For those that do not eat enough fibre in their diet, there are fibre supplements available that can be consumed separately like the Herbalife Oat Apple fibre.
  • Take a natural supplement. Taking fish oils, milk thistle, fermented red rice, berberine or garlic can all help reduce your total cholesterol levels. Speak to your pharmacist or contact me if you would like some recommendations. Always inform your pharmacist if you are taking any other medication or suffer from any condition even before taking natural supplements. One of the supplements I had seen most positive results with in a pharmacy setting is the Sterol Stop by Erba vita. I don’t suffer from high cholesterol/Triglycerides myself but I do have a machine that can test for cholesterol and triglycerides and I used to monitor patients blood and we used to see significant improvement using Sterol stop.

You might still end up needing to take prescription medication if all of these recommendations do not work out however in the majority of cases lifestyle modifications are enough to get your triglycerides under control

I just wanted to point out that this is in no way a sponsored advertisement the products that I am recommending come recommended from personal experience with patients.

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