What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are fats (lipid molecules) that are stored in fat cells and travel through the bloodstream. They perform a variety of functions in the body, such as regulating body temperature, producing energy, and facilitating other metabolic processes. Elevated levels of triglycerides, especially when combined with other risk factors such as hypertension and obesity, are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Triglyceride levels exceeding 200 mg/dL are considered high and levels exceeding 499 mg/dL are considered very high. Healthy triglyceride levels are below 150 mg/dL for adults. For individuals who are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ideally, this number should be less than 100 mg/dL.
Although the liver produces triglycerides as part of its natural metabolic process, most of the triglycerides in your body are derived from the foods you eat. Therefore, adjusting your diet and lifestyle can be an effective way to lower your triglycerides.
In this article I will discuss what foods you should avoid and which nutrients you should incorporate into your diet. I'll also outline a recommended 7-day diet plan for managing high triglycerides.
7-Day Meal Plan
The following is a sample meal plan aimed at reducing triglyceride levels. Please keep in mind that this is simply and illustration, and that each person's nutritional and caloric requirements are different. For more recipes, look at "High Triglycerides Diet Cookbook: 1600 Days of Quick and Tasty Recipes to Lower Triglycerides Naturally."
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with chopped nuts, cinnamon, and berries
- Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed greens, and avocado
- Dinner: Baked salmon with brown rice and roasted asparagus
- Snacks: Carrot sticks with hummus or Greek yogurt with honey and sliced almonds
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with blueberries, chia seeds, and walnuts
- Lunch: Turkey wrap with whole grain tortilla, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and mustard
- Dinner: Stir-fry with lean beef, broccoli, peppers, onions, and brown rice
- Snacks: Raw almonds or apple slices with almond butter
- Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, banana, almond milk, and peanut butter
- Lunch: Grilled shrimp salad with mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette
- Dinner: Baked chicken breast with green beans and roasted sweet potatoes
- Snacks: Low-fat string cheese or celery sticks with low-fat cream cheese
- Breakfast: Whole grain toast with mashed avocado and poached egg
- Lunch: Lentil soup with whole-grain crackers
- Dinner: Grilled mackerel with quinoa and steamed broccoli
- Snacks: Trail mix with dried fruit and unsalted nuts or orange slices
- Breakfast: Veggie omelet with whole-grain toast
- Lunch: Salad with tuna and mixed greens with whole grain crackers
- Dinner: Grilled vegetables with lean steak and brown rice
- Snacks: Apple slices with cheese or edamame
- Breakfast: Overnight oats with almond milk, cinnamon, and a banana
- Lunch: Grilled chicken wrap with whole grain tortilla, lettuce, tomato, and mustard
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted brussel sprouts and wild rice
- Snacks: Roasted pumpkin seeds or pear slices with almond butter
- Breakfast: Smoothie with kale, banana, almond milk, and hemp seeds
- Lunch: Quinoa salad with mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette
- Dinner: Grilled shrimp skewers with zucchini and brown rice
- Snacks: Blueberries or baby carrots with hummus
What Foods Can Help You Lower Your Triglyceride Levels?
Consider adding the following foods to your diet:
Fatty fish are widely recognized for their positive impact on cardiovascular health and ability to decrease blood triglycerides. This is primarily due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of essential polyunsaturated fatty acid derived from dietary sources.
The American Heart Association suggests consuming two servings of fatty fish weekly to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, research has demonstrated that incorporating salmon into your diet twice a week can considerably reduce blood triglyceride levels. (1)
Some fats are better for your heart health than others. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Studies show that PUFAs lower triglyceride levels, and saturated fats increase triglyceride levels. (2) Other studies found that MUFAs not only lower triglyceride levels, but they lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels. (3). Examples of healthy fats include avocado oil, olives, sesame seeds, nuts, and nut butters.
High-Fiber Whole Grains
Switching from refined grains to those made with whole grains may help you manage your weight, lower your risk for diabetes and cancer, and improve your heart health. One European study found that whole grains, like whole-wheat pasta, may lower triglyceride levels. (4). Other examples of whole grains include steel-cut oats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley.
Fat-Free or Low-Fat Dairy Products
Studies show that low-fat dairy products were associated with reduced triglyceride levels among those with high triglyceride levels. (5) Since whole dairy products can be high in saturated fats, increasing your LDL or bad cholesterol, you should try replacing your whole milk, cheese, and yogurt products with low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Vegetables contain high levels of soluble and insoluble fiber, which are important for reducing triglyceride levels. Studies show that soluble and total fiber were inversely related to triglyceride levels. (6)
One report showed that whole berries, as well as berry juices and extracts, decrease total and LDL cholesterol in addition to triglycerides. (7) Try including more low-sugar fruits, including berries, avocados, and kiwis, to help lower triglycerides. Try to consume high-sugar fruits in moderation, like melon, watermelon, and bananas.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
You should steer clear of foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, as these fats have been shown to raise triglyceride levels. Try to choose unsaturated fats from plant oils, nuts, and seeds rather than saturated and trans fats found in animal-based and processed foods.
Added sugars, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates can also increase triglyceride levels. Alcohol can raise your triglyceride levels and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. (8). One study found that consuming a diet high in added sugars can increase triglyceride levels and lower good cholesterol in just a few weeks. (9) That same study concluded that added sugars contribute to hypertension and heart disease. Another study found that a high carbohydrate diet with low fat still increased triglyceride levels. (10)
Diet Types That May Lower Triglycerides
Below are some dietary modifications that you can make to lower triglyceride levels.
A traditional Mediterranean includes a high intake of healthy fats from sources like fish oil and olive oil, low glycemic load, and a limited consumption of processed meats, saturated fats, and trans fats. The diet is typically low in overall simple carbohydrate consumption, with an emphasis on unprocessed, low glycemic load sources of carbohydrates.
Low Carb Diet
Like added sugar, consuming excess carbohydrates in your diet converts additional calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Low-carbohydrate diets have been associated with reduced triglyceride levels. (11)
High Fiber Diet
You can obtain natural sources of dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, cereals, and legumes. Increasing your fiber intake can help slow down the absorption of fat and sugar in the small intestine, potentially reducing your triglyceride levels. (12)
Other Ways to Lower Triglyceride Levels
Reducing triglycerides is crucial if you have the following risk factors for cardiovascular diseases: hypertension, diabetes, smoking, or a history of heart disease. In addition to modifying your diet, you can lower your triglyceride levels through other lifestyle changes.
Engaging in moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week, losing weight, and quitting smoking can help reduce triglyceride levels.
Consider incorporating a heart health supplement into your diet, such as Healthycell's Heart and Vascular Health supplement, which includes essential ingredients like Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). For more information, look at "Supplements That Lower Triglycerides."
In some cases, medications- such as statins- may be recommended by your doctor. Statins work by inhibiting the production of cholesterol in the liver and reducing cholesterol buildup in the arteries, which can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. However, it's important to note that statins can cause serious side effects, so discussing the potential risks and benefits with your doctor, especially if you're taking other medications, is crucial.
About the Author
Dr. Giampapa is a world-renowned medical doctor, inventor, and surgeon specializing in anti-aging medicine. He recently received a nomination for the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking stem cell research, as well as the Edison Award for the Healthycell nutritional supplement for cell health. He was also awarded the A4M Science & Technology award for his development of the BioMarker Matrix Profile – the first computer program to measure aging.