Lowering Blood Fat

What to eat and not to eat to lower your triglycerides.

You know you need to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a normal range, but you also need to monitor your triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a kind of fat that’s found in your blood and used by the body for energy. Calories not used immediately by the body for energy are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Regularly consuming more calories than your body needs for energy can lead to high triglyceride levels, as can certain medications or health conditions.

While some level of triglycerides is a good thing, too much fat circulating in your blood can put you at risk for heart disease. High triglycerides may also indicate metabolic syndrome. Since high triglycerides typically don’t present any symptoms, it’s important to have your blood tested regularly.

Before resorting to medication, you can make a few simple—though not necessarily easy—changes to your diet. You’ll be amazed at the effect it can have on lowering your triglycerides.

Cut Back on Sugar

Since sugar is quickly converted to energy, eating too much can increase your triglyceride levels. It’s hard to avoid added sugar these days since the sweet stuff is found in nearly every processed food. With so much sugar out there, it’s no wonder the typical American consumes two to three times the recommended amount of added sugar each day. Be diligent about reading nutrition labels and reduce your added sugar intake to no more than nine teaspoons (38 grams) for men and six teaspoons (25 grams) for women on a daily basis.

Eat More Fatty Fish

As you plan your meals, make it your goal to eat fatty fish at least twice a week. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat that reduces triglycerides and protects your heart. If you aren’t able to eat fish, ask your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement.

Go Low-Carb

Carbohydrates are a source of quick energy, so eating too many contributes to high triglycerides. A low-carb diet is one way to lower triglyceride levels and lose weight. When you cut carbs, the majority of each meal should consist of lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Choose whole grains and avoid simple carbs like foods made with white flour.

Limit Alcohol

People with a diagnosis of high triglycerides need to watch how much alcohol they drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, so it has a big and immediate impact on your blood fat. Regularly drinking a lot or a one-time binge can spike your levels. Women should have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two.

Increase Fiber Intake

The more fiber you eat, the less your body absorbs fat and sugar that lead to high triglycerides. A diet high in fiber is shown to lower your risk of heart disease. Get fiber from foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.

Avoid Bad Fat

Even though food authorities have warned of the dangers of trans fat and many food manufacturers have removed it from their products, it’s still lurking in certain foods. Typically found in cookies, cakes, donuts, and fried foods, trans fat is particularly harmful to your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Any time you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil” on an ingredient list, regardless of any “Zero grams of trans fat” claim, avoid the food. Food labels aren’t required to list trans fat if it’s less than half a gram per serving.

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