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Triglycerides – How to Lower Triglycerides

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on April 27, 2009

I’ve recently answered several questions related to triglycerides. These questions range from “What are triglycerides?” to “My triglycerides are 400, do I need to worry?” on to “Help, my triglycerides are 1200, how do I fix this?”

So, I’m going to answer all these questions here for those of you who are wondering, but haven’t asked.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat. Actually, they’re the most common type of fat in foods and in your body. When you eat foods containing fat and oil, such as butter, French fries, and chocolate chip cookies, the body takes the fat and stores it in your body as triglycerides. So, all those “fat cells” in your body are made up of triglycerides.

What do triglycerides have to do with cholesterol?

When you see your MD, he or she may order a “lipid panel” (lipid is a fancy term for fat). From the lipid panel you will learn your total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Total cholesterol = HDL + LDL + VLDL

Well, what in the world is VLDL? Not something you’ve probably seen or heard of before. VLDL is an acronym for Very Low Density Lipoproteins, another “bad” type of cholesterol. Triglycerides are used to calculate VLDL levels in your blood.

Triglycerides x 20% = VLDL (bad) cholesterol

Also, the liver uses triglycerides as fuel for cholesterol production. So, if you eat a high fat (triglyceride) diet, the liver will increase its’ production of cholesterol and put more cholesterol out into your blood.

What is a normal triglyceride level?

You want your triglycerides to be below 200 mg/dL. Borderline high triglycerides are from 200-500 mg/dL. Triglycerides are high risk above 500 mg/dL.

Some experts argue that 200 mg/dL is too high and that a normal level should be less than 150 mg/dL. The numbers I’ve listed above are the current guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert’s Panel.

If your triglycerides are high your heart disease risk increases.

What you can do to lower triglycerides?

1. Limit simple sugars.

Unlike other types of cholesterol, triglycerides are affected by sugars you eat. You need to limit foods such as soft drinks, candy, baked goods, syrup, table sugar, jelly, and honey. A high intake of fruit juice can also raise triglyceride levels since juice contains a high content of natural sugars.

2. Limit alcohol.

If your triglycerides are borderline high or high risk, discuss your alcohol intake with your MD. My recommendation for borderline high (200-500 mg/dL) is to limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks per day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces beer, 4 oz wine, or 1 ½ ounces liquor. If your triglyceride level is high risk (great than 500 mg/dL) I recommend NO alcohol. Again, discuss your situation with your MD.

3. Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.

Many times weight loss alone will lower your triglycerides. Losing as little as 10% body weight could drop your triglycerides back to the normal range.

4. Choose a low-fat diet.

To achieve lower triglyceride levels, maintain a dietary intake of 30% or less of total calories coming from fat. A healthy diet for normal triglyceride levels should consist of whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean meat.

5. Increase your physical activity.

Boosting your activity can lower your triglycerides up to 40%. If you’re not currently active, talk to your MD before starting an activity program. To reduce triglycerides, be physically active at least 30 minutes on 3 or more days each week. The more activity the better.

Triglycerides aren’t all bad. They provide efficient energy storage, cushion your organs, transport certain vitamins, and keep you warm by providing insulation. What’s important is to keep them under control!

Now, if you like this information and want to receive regular heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson, subscribe to The Heart of Health today!

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9 Steps to Lower High Blood Pressure

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 28, 2008

Today is World Heart Day, so I want to give nine steps that will lead to high blood pressure control and ultimately heart health!If you live with high blood pressure, you’re familiar with the side effects of anti-hypertensive medications. Fortunately, medications are not the only way to rein in high blood pressure.

Lifestyle plays a key role. By altering some choices you make, you can avoid or reduce the need for medications.

Here are 9 steps that will start you towards blood pressure control.

1. Put out the cigarette.

There is a significant blood pressure rise with every cigarette you smoke.

2. Pour out the liquor.

More than two drinks daily for men and one for women can elevate blood pressure. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

3. Get off the couch.

Inactivity equals an increased heart rate. Increased heart rate means the heart must pump harder and exert more force on artery walls. Shoot for 30 minutes of activity 5 or more days each week. Get moving!

4. Chill out.

Do you turn to cigarettes, alcohol, or food to cope with stress? If so, find a new method ASAP. Possibilities include meditating, taking a bubble bath, going for a long walk – whatever works for you.

5. Do NOT chew the fat.

Reduce saturated fat intake (i.e. trim visible fat off meat, switch to low fat milk). Replace saturated fats (such as shortening, butter, and ice cream) with unsaturated fats (such as canola oil, margarine, and low fat yogurt).

6. Use fatty acids.

Become omega 3 savvy and consume omega 3 fatty acids everyday (i.e. salmon, walnuts, canola oil, herring, and avocados).

7. Stop shaking the salt.

Taste your food before salting it! Read food labels to limit sodium intake to 2300 milligrams per day. Most Americans consume 6-18 grams daily. Pull out herbs and spices in place of the salt shaker.

8. Rake in the roughage.

Make whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables your friends. The more the merrier. A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily. A fruit serving generally provides 2-4 grams of fiber, whole grain pasta 5 grams, and you can find 100% whole wheat bread with 5 grams.

9. Know your minerals.

Three minerals play critical roles in blood pressure management – potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Potassium

If you are treating high blood pressure with a diuretic, you are excreting potassium. Two of the best potassium sources are potatoes and bananas.

Magnesium

As you switch from refined grains to whole grains your magnesium intake will increase. Magnesium is lost when grains are refined (bran and germ removed). Also, diuretics have the same effect on magnesium as they do potassium.

Calcium

Get your 3 a day. You need 3 servings of low fat dairy everyday. High fat dairy does not have the same protective effect when combating high blood pressure. One dairy serving is equal to 8 oz. of milk, 8 oz. yogurt, 1-1/2 oz cheese, and 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

To receive free heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson, subscribe to The Heart of Health and grab your FREE subscriber report: “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health!”

 

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