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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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Heart Health – The Dangers of Soda

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 20, 2009

My weakness is caffeine-free Diet Coke. For me, soda and popcorn go hand-in-hand. Well, even though I am drinking diet I have to remember I am not sitting pretty. Soda affects tooth decay, tooth discoloration, and for those that do not choose diet, weight gain.

Tooth Decay
 
Any drink that is carbonated has a low pH level. What you ask? Let me explain. The process of carbonation adds carbon dioxide and results in the formation of carbonic acid. This acid lowers the pH of a beverage. A pH of 1 is acidic and 7 is neutral. Battery acid has a pH of 1; water has a pH of 7. The pH of Pepsi is 2.49, Coke is 2.63, and Mountain Dew is 3.22. The acid in soda can damage tooth enamel in just 20 minutes. Think about how you usually drink your soda. Do you drink a 12 oz. can in 5-10 minutes or are you sipping on it over a period of an hour or so? You can help combat the effects of carbonic acid by drinking your soda in less than 20 minutes and rinsing your mouth with water after the fact. Saliva also helps neutralize the acid. Don’t forget to protect your children’s teeth! Children are even more susceptible to tooth erosion because their tooth enamel is not fully developed. 
 
Tooth discoloration
 
Habitual soda drinkers are adding layers of sugar, which turn to layers of plaque on their teeth. This plaque then absorbs stains from food products. This is how dark colored sodas lead to tooth discoloration. Bye, bye pearly whites!
 
Weight Gain
 
A 12 oz. can of regular soda contains about 150 calories. If you drink one can everyday you consume 4200 soda calories each month and 50,400 calories each year. This is equal to an extra 14 ½ pounds of body weight. Most people do not limit themselves to just 12 oz. a day. . . .one 20 oz bottle of regular soda daily would be an additional 26 pounds each year.
 
So, as you kick back and enjoy that acidic, staining, waist expanding can of soda, maybe you should think about splurging on a fancy bottle so you can switch it up and enjoy some refreshing water once in awhile instead!
 
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Weight Loss Resolution – Tips to Stay Motivated

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on January 1, 2009

New Year’s is just around the corner and you know what that means. . .New Year’s Resolution! Every year you set a goal to make a change for the better. This should be a time of great excitement; however, you may be approaching it with a sense of dread instead. Will you achieve your goal? Or will it end up being another resolution that falls to the wayside?

The statistics are not very encouraging. Most people give up on their New Year resolutions within three weeks. According to one discouraging study, only 8% of American’s actually achieve their New Year resolutions!

How will you keep yourself motivated and make this the year you achieve your goals?

Here are five key strategies to stay motivated:

1. Set realistic goals.

Set a goal you know you can achieve. If you are currently inactive, it’s unrealistic to set a goal to run 5 miles three times a week. Instead, set a goal you can achieve, such as “I will walk 30 minutes 3 days a week.” Realistic goals can be motivating because once you achieve your goal you can set a new one! This allows you to “see” the progress you’re making. Which brings us to the next important strategy. . .

2. Set measurable goals.

Measurable goals make it possible to track your progress. For example, instead of setting the goal “I will eat out less this year” change it to “I will eat out no more than once a week this year”. By setting measurable goals you can easily track if you are sticking with your goals.

3. Write your goals down.

Writing down your goals makes them “real” versus keeping a mental list. Post your resolution where you will see it everyday as a reminder and added motivation.

4. Tell a friend.

Share your goals with others. This provides a sense of accountability. It’s much easier to let yourself down, but when you’ve shared your plan with someone else, there’s often an increased desire to succeed.

5. Reward Yourself!

When you achieve a goal, reward yourself. It’s important to recognize your accomplishments and treat yourself. Just make sure your treat is in line with your goal. If you want to lose weight, this isn’t the time to treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Consider other small rewards you’d enjoy, such as a good book, new music CD, or new pair of shoes.

You increase your chance of success if you take it one step at a time. I wish you all the best on your journey to heart health and weight loss!

Go to http://www.eNutritionServices.com to sign up for The Heart of Health ezine and receive regular tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson. You’ll also receive the free report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” or the free e-course “8 Essential Steps to Lower Cholesterol Naturally”.

Posted in fitness, heart health, high blood pressure, lose weight, lower cholesterol, nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Body fat – Nature versus Nurture

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on October 21, 2008

I find it interesting that identical twins raised apart have similar weight gain patterns and fat deposits. If one is overweight, the other is usually overweight. This suggests that 80% of obesity is related to genetics and not eating habits.

My gut reaction is to argue this and say it provides too easy of a cop out for overweight individuals to say “it’s just my genes”. I argue that the remaining 20%, which is determined by how a child is raised, has a signficant impact on overall overweight status.

What do you think?

Additional interesting statistics:
A child with no obese parent has a 10% chance of being an obese adult.
A child with one obese parent has a 40% chance of being an obese adult.
A child with two obese parents has an 80% chance of being an obese adult.

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
eNutritionServices

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