It turns out that it’s not just the cholesterol levels you should be watching out for. When it comes to body lipids, your triglyceride levels are just as important. Having an elevated level of triglycerides in your body is important as well and should be monitored along with your cholesterol level. Fortunately, when your lipid profile is checked, the triglyceride level is also recorded as part of the lipid profile.
What are your triglycerides?
Your triglyceride level measures a certain type of lipid in your bloodstream. Calories you eat that are not utilized as fuel by the body are instead made into triglycerides. Triglycerides are kept in storage by the fat cells of your body.
Between meals, triglycerides are gradually released by the fat cells to be used as fuel. If you eat too many calories than your body can use, especially calories you take in from fat and carbohydrates, your level of triglycerides goes up and you can develop a condition known as “hypertriglyceridemia.”
When you have your triglyceride level checked, it will tell you how many milligrams per deciliter of triglycerides are found in the bloodstream.
The Triglyceride Levels Interpretations:
- Normal is less than 250 mg /dL
- Borderline high is between 150 and 199 mg/dL.
- High is between 200 and 499 mg/dL
- Very high is above 500 mg/dL.
In order to get an accurate triglyceride level, you will need to stop eating 9-12 hours before your blood test is checked.
The Difference Between Cholesterol And Triglycerides
Both cholesterol and triglycerides are types of fat in your body. Triglycerides are different from cholesterol in that they are used to store calories you don’t use for later use as cellular energy, while cholesterol helps build cell membranes and create some hormones of the body. Neither type of fat is soluble in blood so they need to be carried around the bloodstream transported on lipoproteins.
Why Are Triglycerides Important?
No one knows the exact mechanism of action of cholesterol on the arteries but it has been shown that people with high triglyceride levels are at risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Very high levels of triglycerides (above 1000 mg/dL) can result in pancreatitis, which can be very dangerous.
Elevated levels of triglycerides often mean you have other risk factors for heart disease, such as being overweight and suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is a heart-damaging disease in which you have high blood pressure, excess belly fat, diabetes, and high triglyceride levels.
Elevated triglyceride levels can be seen in type 2 diabetes that is not in good control and can be seen in hypothyroidism, certain genetic lipid conditions, and kidney disease or liver disease. Some medications will raise the triglyceride levels, such as steroids, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta-blockers.
How can triglycerides be lowered?
There are few medications available to reduce triglyceride levels. The best choices are changing lifestyle choices in order to reduce triglyceride levels. These include the following:
- Reducing calories. If you eat too many calories, the excess goes to making triglycerides that are stored in fat cells.
- Losing weight. If you can lose 5-10 pounds, you will lessen the triglyceride level in the bloodstream. This will lower your risk of heart disease.
- Avoid sugary foods or foods that are highly refined. Foods that are high in sugar or are made with white flour will raise triglyceride levels.
- Eating healthy fats. Instead of eating saturated fats, you should instead eat monounsaturated fats seen in olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. Eat fish containing omega 3 fatty acids and your triglyceride levels will be decreased.
- Cutting back on alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of sugar and calories in them, which raise triglyceride levels when taken in excess.
- Get regular exercise. Try exercising some kind of aerobic activity for thirty minutes per day on as many days of the week as you can. Exercise has been known to lessen the triglyceride levels and raises the HDL cholesterol levels.
Here are some resources that may help:
- Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs
As always, please make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any treatment, diet, or fitness programming.