How to Lower Triglycerides

How to Lower Triglycerides

Leading a healthy lifestyle is not always easy. Keeping up with exercise, what foods to eat, and what to avoid can be a lot to balance. When words like cholesterol or triglycerides enter the mix, it can certainly get overwhelming fast. But what exactly are triglycerides, and why do they matter for your health? And if your triglyceride levels are too high, what can you do to lower them?

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are lipids (fats) that are carried in your blood. When you eat or drink, your body converts any unused calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Between meals, the body releases these triglycerides as needed for energy. If you consistently consume more calories than you use throughout the day, you are at risk of developing hypertriglyceridemia (high triglycerides).

Understanding Triglyceride Levels

Like cholesterol — another important lipid — healthy triglyceride levels are key to living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding complications down the road. If your triglyceride levels are above the normal zone, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease as well as metabolic syndrome.

Triglyceride LevelCategory
< 150 mg/dLNormal
150-199 mg/dLElevated
200-499 mg/dLHigh
500+ mg/dLVery High

Causes of High Triglycerides

There are many factors that could lead to elevated triglyceride levels. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Smoking — especially cigarettes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Type 2 diabetes / prediabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Genetic conditions that impede converting fat to energy
  • Side effect of some medications

High Triglycerides Symptoms & Risks

High triglyceride levels don’t generally display any outward symptoms, but they do lead to serious health risks. The most common are:

  • Hardening of arteries / thickening of arterial walls (arteriosclerosis)
  • Increases risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease
  • Pancreatitis, if levels are in the extreme zone

Diagnosis of High Triglycerides

In order to determine your triglyceride levels, a simple blood test can suffice. It’s also common practice to check triglyceride levels along with cholesterol through a lipid panel, which evaluates your blood especially for abnormalities in fat cells. If your triglyceride or cholesterol levels are above the acceptable levels, your doctor will prescribe treatment options suitable for your condition.

7 Ways to Lower Your Triglycerides

1. Exercise

Exercise has a double benefit for fighting high triglycerides. It promotes healthy cardiovascular activity, which strengthens your body against heart disease, and it also can help lower your body weight. If your problem is eating too many calories for your current activity level, raising your activity level will certainly help to balance out that excess, which will drive down triglyceride levels. However, exercise alone will not be enough for most people, and it should always be combined with a healthy diet.

2. Limit Simple Sugars and Refined Carbs

Simple and refined may sound like good things, but unfortunately that’s not the case when it comes to carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are those that have been stripped of their nutrients in favor of longer shelf life or to enhance texture or flavor. Instead of fueling your body with nutrients and useful energy stores, these foods serve only as empty calories, which your body is unable to utilize efficiently. Ultimately, the buildup of excessive sugars is converted into fats.

3. Avoid Smoking

Smoking is a known cause for many cardiovascular complications. Although the exact connection between smoking and high triglycerides or cholesterol is not precisely known, studies have repeatedly shown that lipid profiles in smokers are less healthy than non-smokers.

4. Lose Weight

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight is perhaps the most impactful way you can lower high triglycerides. Since high triglycerides develop from excessive caloric intake, reducing how much you eat or increasing your activity levels can have a dramatic effect on both your weight and your lipid levels. All weight loss is not healthy, however, so if you struggle with maintaining a healthy body weight, you should speak to your healthcare provider or a dedicated nutritionist to determine a healthy weight-loss plan.

5. Eat Healthier Fats

Like carbohydrates, fats can be both good and bad. Plant-based fats, such as olive, avocado, or canola oils, are much healthier than animal-based fats — especially those from red meats. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are also good for you, such as cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) and many seeds and nuts. Avoid trans-fats at all costs, which not only raise triglyceride and cholesterol levels, but also can lead to a number of other cardiovascular problems.

6. Limit Alcohol Intake

Like excessive calories, alcohol is converted into triglycerides and cholesterol when it reaches the liver. Drinking any amount increases health risks, but overuse of alcohol can be especially detrimental to your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. For men, the current guidelines suggest no more than two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women.

7. Explore Medication Options

In some cases, the above options may not be enough to obtain healthy triglyceride levels. Consult with your healthcare provider to see what kinds of medication and alternative treatment options are available. Even if you are prescribed medication for lowering your triglyceride levels, however, you should follow the other treatment options listed above to ensure a healthy lifestyle and to assist the medication in keeping your lipid levels in a healthy range.

If You’re Concerned About High Triglycerides, Nurse Practitioners of Florida Can Help

Whether you need a lipid panel or a full treatment plan, we’ve got you covered. At Nurse Practitioners of Florida, we have a dedicated team of certified nurse practitioners who have an unwavering commitment to providing you with care and compassion. When you call any of our locations, you will be greeted by a live person who’s ready to offer acute medical care as well as preventive measures — including flu vaccines. And, above everything else, you will be treated like family.

If you need assistance, call us or fill out our online contact form.