Why You Need to Know About Triglycerides

Why You Need to Know About Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. When you eat more calories than you burn, your body converts all the surplus calories into triglycerides. Having triglycerides in your blood stream is totally normal. They are basically stored energy. In between meals, when you don't have food as an energy source, your hormones release the triglycerides for energy. However, you can have too much of a good thing. High triglyceride levels are linked to heart disease and stroke.

In this article, we further explain triglycerides and give advice on how to keep your triglyceride levels in a healthy range.

Triglycerides and Cholesterol

Triglycerides and cholesterol are often discussed together. They are very similar, but there are important differences. Both are types of fats that circulate in your blood. However, triglycerides store unused energy while cholesterol is used to build cells and hormones. Both are an important component of your blood composition. Often when you get blood work done to track your cholesterol levels, you'll get your triglyceride profile done too. So triglycerides and cholesterol are different fats, and have different effects on the body. Both contribute to increased risk of heart disease, though, so you'll want to keep careful watch on the levels of both in your blood.

Controlling Your Triglyceride Levels

The chart below shows the different ranges for triglyceride levels.

LevelMeasurement (miligrams / deciliter)
Healthy <150
Borderline High 150-199
High 200-499
Very High >500

 

We recommend that you test your triglyceride levels at least once a year. You can buy test kits and check your results against the table above, but having them checked at your next doctor's visit it probably cheaper and more convenient. If your levels are in the borderline high - high range, the following changes to your diet can help bring them down to a normal level.

  1. Cut back on sugars. Sugars are basically just calories. They have no real nutritional values. As noted above, a caloric surplus is exactly what causes increases in your triglyceride levels. This is why diets packed with sugar are often the culprits for high triglyceride levels.
  2. Choose health fats. Briefly, you'll want to replace animal fats in your diet with plant fats. Get your fat from nuts, oils, and plants, not red meat.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercising at least 30 minutes several times a week consistently will reduce your triglyceride levels as you increase how many calories you burn, thus reducing the amount you will convert into triglycerides.

Fortunately, the way to keep your triglyceride levels in check is almost identical to the way to solve many other health problems: cut down on sugars and unhealthy fats and exercise more. This is not rocket science, but it could save your life.