How to improve triglycerides without medication

Most of us are familiar with cholesterol, a fatty substance in the blood from food sources and what our body makes. Some of us have elevated blood cholesterol levels treated with medication, lifestyle changes or both. But there’s another type of fat called triglycerides, which if dangerously elevated, can increase the risk of heart disease. 

If you have elevated triglyceride levels, your doctor may recommend starting medications to lower the levels to a healthier range. But is it possible to improve triglycerides without medication? The answer to this is “yes,” however, it takes a willingness to make lifestyle changes to improve the numbers. 

What you should know about triglycerides

The most common fat found in the human body and foods are triglycerides. Triglycerides come from certain foods, and they are produced naturally in the body by the liver. When you eat, calories not used as energy are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat. 

Although triglycerides are important for the body’s healthy functioning, they may be dangerous in high amounts, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease and pancreatitis, inflammation, or swelling of the pancreas.

Who is at risk of elevated triglycerides?

Certain factors can lead to high triglycerides, including genetics, a family history of high triglycerides, lifestyle habits, and medical history. Poor lifestyle habits raising triglyceride levels include lack of exercise, overweight or obesity, smoking, a high sugar intake, large meals, and saturated and trans fats. 

People with poorly controlled diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease are more likely at an increased risk of high trigylcerides. Other risk factors may include certain medications, drinking a lot of alcohol, and age.

How are triglycerides measured?

A blood test taken at your healthcare clinic measures the amount of lipids (fats) and cholesterol in your blood. The blood test results will provide you with a number for your triglyceride level, whether it’s normal or high. Here is the breakdown of the different levels and numbers of triglycerides helping you see what is considered normal to very high:

Triglyceride (mg/dl)                          Level

Less than 150                              Normal

150-199                                 Borderline high

200-499                                         High

500 or greater                            Very High 

 

What to do when triglycerides are higher than normal

 

     The good news is that you can reduce high triglycerides with changes to your diet and lifestyle. Here are ideas you can try:

 

  • Exercise regularly: Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
  • Limit sugar and starchy foods: Reduce consumption of white bread and rice, candy, jam, jelly, sweetened yogurt, and baked goods such as cookies, pie, and pastries. 
  • Choose water, milk, and unsweetened tea.
  • Limit sugary beverages: Refrain from drinking sodas, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, and energy drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can affect the liver, which increases triglyceride production. If you drink red wine for heart health, limit it to 5 ounces per day or eliminate it.
  • Eliminate unhealthy fats: These are called saturated fats (found in meats, whole milk) and trans fats (found in stick margarine, cookies, French fries, doughnuts, and “fast foods”). 
  • Choose healthy fats: Choose olive, canola, or peanut oils, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, peanut butter, flaxseed, and avocado.
  • Choose fatty fish: At least twice a week, eat fatty fish like salmon, trout, albacore tuna, or mackerel.
  • Eat more fiber: Fresh fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal are great sources of fiber.

 

If you cannot lower your triglycerides with lifestyle changes alone, your healthcare provider may recommend certain medications to help bring down the levels.  These recommendations may include:

 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fibrates
  • Nicotinic acid (also known as Niacin).
  • Statins 

 

      Always work with your doctor on reaching a healthier level of triglycerides to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. 

 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911. 

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