What are triglycerides (TG)?
TG are a type of fat found in the bloodstream. Foods eaten are digested and serve as calories for the body to use. Any calories that are not needed or are in excess are converted to TG for storage. TG is stored in your fat cells.
TG is an important factor to measure heart health. Having a high level of TG contributes to atherosclerosis, also known as thickening of the artery walls. This increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Extremely high TG can also lead to pancreatitis (acute inflammation of the pancreas).
Link of High Triglyceride and other conditions
High TG can signify the existence of other conditions, those that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These conditions include:
Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
Metabolic syndrome (condition where high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease)
Hypothyroid (low thyroid hormone levels)
Some rare genetic conditions that affect how your body convert fats to energy
Side effects of certain conditions that lead to high TG levels:
Sometimes, high TG may be a side effect of certain medications. These include:
Estrogen and progestin
Some HIV medications
TG vs Cholesterol?
Triglycerides and cholesterols are different types of lipid in the body serving different purposes. TGs store unused energy and provide your body with energy. Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.
Lowering TGs on your own: Lifestyle matters
If you have high TGs and are not sure what you can do to lower them, here are some useful tips. Lowering TGs are all about making good lifestyle modifications:
Regular exercise: Physical activity (moderate) of at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week. Regular exercise can lower triglycerides and boost HDL (good cholesterol). Avoid sugar and refined Carbohydrates: Simple sugars or refined carbohydrates like white flour or rice, or foods made with fructose can increase triglycerides.
Lose weight: If you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia, try cutting on calories. Extra calories are converted to TG and stored as fat.
Choose healthier fats: Healthier fats like avocado (monounsaturated fats) and fish (Poly unsaturated fats, omega 3) in replacement of red meats or processed foods (saturated fats) is a better option.
Limit/cut off alcohol: High in calories and sugar, alcohol has a potent effect on TG. Avoid alcohol completely if you have severe hypertriglyceridemia.
Nevertheless, your doctor may prescribe triglyceride lowering medication if your levels are out of control or if your condition is having an effect on your health. Speak to your doctor about the best option for your condition.
Our following post will be on Avocados, a good source of monounsaturated fats.