Reduce high triglycerides
High triglycerides don't get the attention of bad cholesterol, but they can be just as dangerous for your heart. High triglycerides can have just as much of an impact on your heart as other heart disease risks, such as high cholesterol. Studies show that high triglycerides have become a problem for about one in five people. Research suggests that high triglycerides may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Knowing your triglyceride level is as important as knowing your good and bad cholesterol numbers. In many cases, high triglycerides and low 'good' cholesterol numbers go together, and these risks may run in families. Everyone over age 40 should have their lipid profile checked with a simple blood test as part of a routine physical. If you haven't had it checked yet, now is a good time.
You want to keep your triglyceride number under 150. The higher your number goes, the more you are at risk. Here are the numbers you should know:
* Normal triglycerides are less than 150 mg/dL.
* Borderline triglycerides are between 150 and 199 mg/dL.
* Over 200 mg/dL is too high.
* Over 500 mg/dL is very high.
High triglycerides are associated with obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease. The first thing your doctor will do is try to correct any of these problems. Over the long term, the most important thing you need to do is make lifestyle modifications to keep triglycerides in check.
Choosing foods that lower triglycerides
A diet to lower triglycerides is about striving not to take in more calories than your body can use.
That may mean eating less and exercising more. When you take in more calories than you need, your body changes those calories into triglycerides and they get stored in your fat cells.
Here are tips to help you choose calories well and lower your triglycerides:
* Reduce saturated fats and trans fats. These are the fats commonly found in animal products, fast foods, commercially baked goods, and other packaged foods.
* Use healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These are found in olive oil or canola oil for cooking.
* Get most of your calories from fruits, vegetables, and non-fat or low-fat dairy products.
* Avoid added and refined sugars.
* Eat fish as a protein source once or twice a week. Coldwater fish oils, such as those in salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower triglycerides.
* Make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Whole-grain products add fiber and help you avoid overeating because they fill you up.
* Limit your total dietary cholesterol to 200 mg per day.
A heart-healthy diet to lower triglycerides includes lowering sugar, lowering fat, and limiting alcohol. However, if you have a very high triglycerides or a combination of high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol or high LDL (bad) cholesterol, you may need medication along with diet to lower triglycerides. Your doctor can help you determine if you need to be taking medication in addition to your diet changes.
Dr Nazma Akter
Assistant Professor (Endocrinology & Metabolism)
Department of Medicine
MARKS Medical College & Hospital, Mirpur-14, Dhaka.