High Triglyceride Diet

High Triglyceride Diet

Last updated on June 16th, 2016

There is no reason to have a high triglyceride diet.  Diets that are high in triglycerides are also higher in other types of fat, such as cholesterol and eating a high triglyceride diet can result in complications, including heart disease that can manifest itself in having a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.

There are many things you can do in order to lower your triglyceride level besides exercise.  Any time you modify your diet to reduce triglyceride intake and step up the exercise, you will lose weight, which automatically reduces the triglyceride levels by up to half of what they were originally.

Triglyceride

Here are some things you might do as part of a low triglyceride diet:

  • Lose some weight. If you are overweight or obese, your triglyceride level will be increased.  If you can eat a lower calorie diet that causes a weight reduction of just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, you can lose about 10 to 20 pounds (if you originally weigh about 200 pounds). This results in a reduction in triglycerides of approximately 20 percent.
  • Decrease sugar intake. People who have added sugar in their diet will have high triglycerides.  Those who have an intake of sugar that is less than ten percent of the total daily calories will have decreased levels of triglycerides.  The American Heart Association recommends that, in order to avoid the complications of a high triglyceride diet, you should have no more than five percent of the total caloric intake per day from added sugar.  This means decreasing your added sugar levels to about 150 grams (9 tsp) in men and 100 grams (6 tsp) in women each day.  The greatest source of sugar in the American diet is sodas that are sweetened with dextrose.  You can decrease your overall sugar intake by drinking beverages that do not contain sugar.  Even though diet sodas are not considered very healthy for you, they are better than drinking sodas that contain sugar.
  • Increase fiber intake. Rather than eat processed foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber, you need eat foods that are higher in fiber, including whole grain products, whole fruits, and whole vegetables.  Avoid white bread and juices that come from fruits.

Fructose

  • Decrease fructose intake. Research has shown that when you eat too much fructose, which is also known as “fruit sugar”, you can suffer from high triglycerides.  The major source of fructose in the American diet is high fructose corn syrup.  Regular table sugar contains 50 percent fructose, while high fructose corn syrup contains 42 to 55 percent fructose.  In order to decrease fructose, you need to eat those foods that are low in sugar and in high fructose corn syrup.  Read the nutrient panel on any items of food you buy to make sure that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not in the list of ingredients. As mentioned, fruit contains a great deal of fructose that can increase the triglyceride levels.  Fruits you should avoid when trying to decrease fructose intake include raisins, dates, and other dried fruits.  Instead you should eat cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries, bananas, and grapefruit—all of which are considered low in fructose. Try to eat less than 100 grams per day of fructose if you are trying to decrease your triglyceride level.
  • Eat a low Fat Diet. When eating a low fat diet, you don’t want to eat a severely low fat diet as this can actually increase triglyceride levels.  Instead, you need to eat a diet that is only moderately low in fat.  According to the American Heart Association, you can lower your triglyceride level by eating about 25-35 percent of the daily allotment of calories from fat.  This is not much lower than the amount of fat in a typical American diet (which is about 37 percent fat by weight). The best way to decrease the fat intake is to choose low fat products at the grocery store.  The amount of fat you should take in is about 600 calories of fat in a 2000 calorie a day diet.  This translates to about 67 grams of fat per day (as each gram of fat is about 9 calories).  Fortunately, the fat content of most food products is listed in the Nutritional Fact label on food products you buy at the store.
  • Change the type of fat you take in. This means decreasing your intake of saturated fats.   You can find saturated fats in poultry, red meat, coconut oil, palm oil, milk, cheese, and butter.  Try to stay completely away from trans fats, which are especially bad for you. Most of the fat you take in should be of the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types of fat.  You can find polyunsaturated fats in soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil and you can find monounsaturated fats in both olive oil and canola oil.  While these unsaturated fats are considered to be better for you than saturated and trans fats, all fats are high in calories so you may want to make sure that you cook with as little oil as possible.
  • Eat omega 3 fatty acids. You can take in omega 3 fatty acids in herring, lake trout, tuna, sardines, and salmon.  In order to have the best omega 3 fatty acids, you need to eat at least two servings of fatty fish per day (according to the American Heart Association).  If your triglyceride level is already high, you can take supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids along with eating it in the food you eat.  Talk to your doctor about how much supplement to take as too many calories of omega 3 fatty acids can block blood clotting abilities.
  • Get more exercise. About 150 minutes of exercise per week (30 minutes a day for 5 days per week) should help lower cholesterol levels.  You need to engage in moderate to intense physical exercise in order for it to be helpful in decreasing your weight and normalizing your triglyceride levels.
  • Decrease alcohol intake. This is a little bit controversial as only some research studies have shown that alcohol intake increases triglyceride levels. According to the American Heart Association, you should not drink any alcohol if your triglyceride level is exceedingly high.
  • Take drugs to lower triglycerides. For those people with triglyceride levels greater than 500 mg/dL, you might need medication to decrease the triglyceride level.  Common drugs used to treat high triglyceride levels include niacin, Lovaza, and fibrate medications.  Decreasing triglyceride levels through medications alone is insufficient to prevent complications of high triglycerides.  Along with the medication, you still need to eat fewer triglycerides and exercise to keep the triglyceride levels low.

Testing for High Triglycerides

A lipid profile should be checked in every healthy person every 5-10 years in order to check the levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides.  If you know you have high triglycerides, you need to have your level checked more often than that.

The test for triglycerides is done on a fasting basis, although the American Heart Association indicates that fasting is not strictly necessary.  If your triglyceride level is 200 mg/dL or more, you should have a fasting triglyceride level checked to confirm the diagnosis of hypertriglyceridemia.

References:

  1. 10 steps to lowering triglycerides. http://www.healthcommunities.com/high-cholesterol/steps-to-lower-triglycerides.shtml. Accessed 5/28/16.
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