Are your triglyceride levels elevated? You may not know about the many ways you can bring that number down yourself, and get your heart health back on track.
What are triglycerides?
You’ve probably heard about triglycerides during a routine physical or after a cholesterol test. But what are they and why should you pay attention to them? Michael Miller, MD, cardiologist and the author of Heal Your Heart, explains that triglyceride levels indicate the amount of fat in your blood stream. “The average level for adult men and women after an overnight fast is 125, with optimal levels below 100,” he says. “The borderline-high range is 150 to 199, and high levels are 200 and above.” If your levels are creeping upward, says Dr. Miller, your risk of heart disease and death from cardiovascular disease will also rise. The American Heart Association notes that higher levels, especially when you also have low HDL cholesterol (the “good” type) or high LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type), are linked with hardening of the arteries.
Conditions that raise triglycerides
Certain conditions can cause high triglycerides, so let your doctor know your medical history or any unusual symptoms you may have. Joel Kahn, MD, says this could shed some light on your levels: For example, he says conditions such as prediabetes, diabetes, liver disease, and thyroid disease could be responsible for your high triglycerides. But lifestyle factors also have a huge impact on your triglyceride (TG) level, so before your doctor prescribes medication, you may want to try to lower them naturally. Here’s how to do it.
Cut refined carbs
Overeating is one of the most common causes of high triglycerides. Dr. Miller stresses the importance of making healthier food choices and limiting simple carbs like those found in white bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, and many snacks. “Since excess sugar is converted into triglycerides in the bloodstream, eating foods high in refined carbs can cause a spike in TG levels,” says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. Do yourself a favor by replacing simple carb foods with these best foods for your heart.