Triglycerides along with Cholesterol are two of the major Fats found in the Blood Stream when elevated puts us all at risk for Heart Attacks or Strokes. Although Cholesterol gets most of the press now days, Triglycerides are equally as risky when elevated above 200 mg/dl to causing a heart attack or stroke.
Exactly what are Tri Glycerides. Tri meaning (3), Glyceride (derived from carbohydrates), thus, a Tri Glyceride is (3) Fat molecules attached onto a Glycerol base. One of the main functions of Triglycerides is to store and transport energy throughout the body. The way it works when we eat more calories than what we need (fats + starches), the body converts the excess calories into Tri Glycerides. The Triglycerides travel to the fat cells and are stored there until needed. Triglycerides are released out of the fat cells and used as energy during periods of fasting or between meals.
The risk develops when the body starts to make an excessive amount of Triglycerides. I have seen levels as high as 800 mg/dl to 1000 mg/dl, where as normal levels are 150 mg/dl. Most of the patients whose levels were extremely elevated had very stressful jobs which also accompanied a high consumption of alcohol. At levels, as high as 200 mg/dl triglycerides starts to clog the vessels, it does not stand to reason why the Physician had these patients to consult with a Dietitian.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertriglyceridemia (high triglycerides) please consider the following:
- Maintain Your weight: Many of the clients were not over weight or obese however some were. Maintain a healthy weight or strive to lose weight. Mobilize those stored triglycerides by using them for energy. A reduction of 5% to 10% of your current weight will significantly lower your levels. What does that look like, if your current weight is 200# a 5% to 10% reduction would be a 10# to 20# weight loss that’s all it takes.
- Eat a moderate amount of Carbohydrates: Choose carbohydrates made from Whole Grains. Avoid/limit intake of sweets/sugary beverage and products made from enriched grains and starches. Consume wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Limit Your Calories: Practice Mindful Eating. Slow down enjoy your meal activate your taste buds. Did you know that the body takes 20 minutes for the brain to recognize you are full? Excessive calories can be avoided by taking your time to eat. Don’t forget Triglycerides are developed from EXCESSIVE calories.
- Monitor your intake of FATS: Choose unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and add foods high in Omega-3. Avoid hydrogenated fats (including coconut oil), all saturated fats and trans fatty acids
- Avoid or limit Alcohol: Lastly, but not least Alcohol, one of the biggest contributors to the formation of Triglycerides. It is recommended to avoid the consumption of all alcoholic beverages, however if this is not feasible, limit drinks to two per day for males, and one per day for females. The American Heart Association defines “one drink” as
4 oz. wine, 12 oz. beer, 1-1.5 oz. of spirits (1 jigger).
Elevated Triglycerides puts us at an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes so please, let’s “Try” for Triglycerides.