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Improving Triglycerides with Nutrition

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
3
March 15, 2022

When reading our blood cholesterol results, there are usually several things that are measured: Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides, and VLDL(sometimes). While most of these are different types of cholesterol, there is one that is not actually cholesterol, but will influence it: Triglycerides. In this article, we’ll review what Triglycerides are, and how to improve it.

What Are Triglycerides?

When you eat a meal, your body converts any extra calories it doesn't need into fatty acids, or triglycerides. Since our bodies store all our extra food as fat, it will make cholesterol to transport these triglycerides around in the blood, and put them into storage.  

So the first tip to keep your triglycerides low is to eat only those macronutrients that you need at each meal- keep meals balanced, and don’t overindulge.

We need a certain amount of triglycerides in the blood for the building blocks of our cells, or during famine, but having too high triglycerides can lead to higher cholesterol, and even pancreatitis. The high triglycerides and cholesterol gradually causes damage to our arteries, and leads to higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

What Habits Cause High Triglycerides?

Generally speaking, it is clear that eating too much fat will cause high blood fats, or triglycerides. But fat is not the only micronutrient that raises your triglycerides when you eat too much. Carbohydrates and proteins will, also. Besides macronutrients, there are a few other food qualities that are sneaky at raising triglycerides. Here’s a complete list of what raises your triglycerides:

  • Eating more carbohydrates than you need at one time.
  • Eating more protein than you need at one time.
  • Eating more fat than you need at one time, especially from saturated and trans fats.
  • Eating a diet high in sugar or eating more natural or added sugars than your body uses for energy.
  • Drinking alcohol - Alcohol contains calories that are not easily usable by the body. The body will almost always convert alcohol into triglycerides.

What Habits Will Lower High Triglycerides

Takeaways

If your triglycerides are high, this can lead to other health problems. To resolve high triglycerides, think about the potential causes: Do you typically eat more protein, carbohydrates or fat than your body needs at any particular meal? Do you have a diet containing high carbohydrates, high juice, or high sugar? Do you eat a high fat diet, or drink alcohol? If you are not sure what is a normal amount, your Dietitian can help you understand how much you need at each meal, and where to cut back. Eating a healthy diet rich in plants, fiber, and low in processed foods, sugars, or saturated fats will all help you lower triglycerides. Plus, there are some stronger prescription supplements you may also be prescribed. Remember, your UnifiedCare team is always here to help!