Getty Images / Alex Ratson / Scientific photo library – SCIEPRO
Triglycerides are a type of fat that makes up the bulk of your body fat stores. They can also be found in various foods, such as butter, margarine, and oils. Beyond triglyceride intake, what and how much you eat also affects your blood triglyceride levels. When you eat more calories than you need, whether from carbohydrates, protein, or fat, your body stores the excess calories as fat in the form of triglycerides.
Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition characterized by the presence of high levels of triglycerides in the blood. It is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, making changes to your diet and lifestyle can help lower your triglycerides and improve your health. Here are six mistakes you can make when trying to lower your triglycerides.
Related: How to lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol
1. You cut out all carbohydrates
A common measure to lower your triglycerides is to reduce your calorie intake by cutting back on carbohydrates, such as the simple carbohydrates found in sodas, juices, and sugary drinks, and refined carbohydrates, which are found in white bread. white pasta and snacks. some products.
This can be a useful approach: eating too many carbohydrates could contribute to higher levels of triglycerides, and lowering would be a strategy to lower them. However, it is not necessary (or healthy) to cut out all forms of carbohydrates, including those found in whole grains. Whole grains are loaded with types of fiber and nutrients that work together to improve your health. Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits that slows digestion by attracting water and forming a gel. This process delays the absorption of sugars and fats, softens your stools, and promotes regular bowel movements. Along with insoluble fiber, a type of dietary fiber that adds bulk to stools, it can promote fullness and keep you feeling full for longer. In other words, including whole grains in your meals and snacks can help regulate your food portion sizes by minimizing your chances of overeating.
You can incorporate more whole grains by having at least half of your grains as whole grains. Try whole wheat versions of your favorite pasta and other grain products, and make room for whole grains like oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, and barley in your diet.
2. You are not balancing your blood sugar
Eating too much food with added sugars can also lead to high triglyceride levels. Surprisingly or not, added sugars make up over 13% of the average American’s daily calorie intake, well above the dietary guideline recommendation of less than 10% of total calories per day.
Added sugars can be found in prepackaged foods, in foods prepared outside the home, as an add-on to your coffee and tea (such as creams and table sugar), or as ingredients in your health products. baking (like sugar or molasses).
When you eat sugar, your liver breaks down its carbohydrates into glucose and converts them into glycogen which is stored for later use for energy. The liver can only convert a limited amount of glucose into glycogen at a time; any excess will be stored as fatty acids. These fatty acids are then used to make triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells and contribute to body fat.
Under normal conditions, your pancreas also makes the hormone insulin to respond to the surge of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin, which acts as a key to the cells of the body, helps glucose pass into the cells for energy. When the key and the lock (the receptors on the cells) don’t fit together, glucose may not get into the cells efficiently, if at all, causing the pancreas to make more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas can become slow to produce insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes over time.
All of this to say that keeping your blood sugar within a normal range is important for the overall health of the body, including heart health. Reducing your intake of added sugars, while choosing your carbs wisely, can help manage your blood sugar and keep your triglyceride levels in a healthier range.
3. You’re eating the wrong kind of fat
The low fat diet trend of the ’90s has been replaced by the opposite. Diets like keto and Whole30 encourage eating lots of animal protein as well as high fat versions of foods, which could lead many consumers to eat more saturated fat. Over-consumption of saturated fat is also associated with high triglyceride levels.
If you’re trying to lower your triglycerides, it’s best to make sure that saturated fat is no more than 10% of your daily calories, replacing it with unsaturated fat, such as nuts and seeds, and fatty acids. omega-3s like those found in oily fish and flax seeds.
You can also reduce your intake of saturated fat by choosing leaner cuts of meats and preparing your foods with oils high in unsaturated fats, such as avocado oil and olive oil, instead of butter. . Also, try to have smaller portions of desserts and sweets, but really enjoy every bite to make you feel more satisfied. Finally, Nutrition Facts labels are a good place to check the saturated fat content of your packaged foods.
4. You drink too much alcohol
While some studies suggest that drinking alcohol, especially red wine, may have health benefits, excessive alcohol consumption does more harm than good. Alcohol has calories, and adding sugary drinks and alcohol mixes, such as cola or syrup, can increase calories even more. Alcohol is processed in the liver, and like food, any excess calories consumed are stored as fat. Over time, these extra calories can also increase your triglyceride levels. Drinking too much can also put you at risk of unnecessary weight gain, heart and liver disease, etc.
Since the risks outweigh the benefits, it is not necessary to start drinking if you haven’t already. If you drink, consume it in moderation, with no more than two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink per day for women.
5. You are not moving enough
Regular physical activity promotes a healthier heart and lowers your triglyceride levels by causing your body to burn calories. Specifically, aerobic (or cardio) exercise increases your heart rate and breathing, which can help keep your lungs and circulation working at peak efficiency. Activities that involve cardio include brisk walking, swimming, biking, running, and more.
Being active for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity each week is essential for maintaining good health. You can also combine the two types of intensities throughout the week.
Look for the little wins when you start to exercise, like doing a 10 minute workout at home, taking your dog or family members for a walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking your car further into the parking lot.
6. You haven’t quit smoking
If you’re a smoker who has done all of the above, but are having trouble lowering your triglyceride levels, there might be one thing that is bothering you: cigarettes. Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease by promoting plaque build-up in the arteries. Plaque is a fatty substance made up of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides that can adhere to artery walls and reduce blood flow over time.
Using alternatives, such as e-cigarettes and vaping, isn’t better either. Research has shown that smoking e-cigarettes can be just as damaging to cholesterol, glucose, and triglyceride levels as smoking traditional tobacco products.
It’s never too late to quit smoking to bring your triglycerides back to a healthy level. Having said that, it’s easier said than done. If you need help quitting smoking, contact your doctor or local health department for more information on smoking cessation programs.