Story by: Kim Huston on October 9, 2023
You may know blood pressure and cholesterol play a role in conditions like diabetes and heart disease, among others. But do you know how triglycerides fit in and whether you should have high triglycerides or low triglyceride levels?
When you eat, your body turns excess calories, alcohol or sugar into triglycerides and stores them in the blood. Many of the fatty foods we eat, such as those with palm oil, coconut oil and butter, have triglycerides.
What is the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?
Cholesterol and triglycerides are different types of lipids that do different jobs. Triglycerides are fat; cholesterol is not. Triglycerides provide energy to the body. Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones, and helps with digestion. If you have a high triglyceride levels, it increases your risk for heart disease.
Knowing your triglyceride levels, as well as cholesterol and other key measures, can help you address any heart disease risks before they become an issue.
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You can get a blood test from your doctor called a lipid panel. It shows your triglyceride level, total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). It’s important not to eat at least 12 hours before the test, because triglyceride levels usually are highest after you eat.
Low triglyceride levels are considered anything below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
The guidelines for fasting triglyceride levels in adults are:
A triglyceride level higher than 200 mg/dL is associated with an increase in risk for heart attack, stroke and death.
If you have a high triglyceride level, talk with your doctor. Several medications and conditions can cause triglycerides to be high. You can start to bring down high triglyceride levels by eating a healthier diet, getting exercise and trying to maintain a healthy weight. Another way to reduce high triglycerides is to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, such as fatty fishes, walnuts, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed and olive oil.
Cut back on things like:
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