If you go for a lipid panel to measure your cholesterol levels, then it will not be just cholesterol that is measured. Likewise you will also have your triglycerides measured which are another form of fat that can be found in the blood. Here anything above 150 is higher than desired, and anything above 200 is a cause for concern.
Like cholesterol it is important to have some triglycerides for normal health and function. However when these reach high levels they can cause an increased risk of heart disease or artery disease and can point to metabolic syndrome. The difference between triglycerides and cholesterol is in their chemical composition, and while cholesterol is actually a type of steroid, triglycerides are the most basic chemical form of fat. They come from the ingestion of dietary fats and through the conversion of unused calories into fat for storage, whereas 85% of cholesterol is produced by the body.
High triglycerides are caused by: obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, underactive thyroids etc.
How to Lower Triglycerides
If you have high triglycerides then it is possible to limit these in many of the same ways that you would lower your high cholesterol – in other words by getting more exercise, and by controlling your intake of fats and sugars.
You should of course limit your intake of saturated fats such as butter, lard and animal fats (saturated fats are the solid ones). This will help you to reduce the amount of triglycerides that you consume and that find their way into your blood. Likewise though you should also remember that you create triglycerides when you don’t use up all of the calories that you eat. In other words then you should aim to eat no more calories than you are going to use – which you can achieve both by doing more exercise so that you use more calories, and by eating fewer carbohydrates so that you have fewer you need to use up. When eating carbs try to keep to complex carbs – these release sugar more gradually so that you get it as you need it, meaning again that less will be converted to fat.
This is why diabetes and hypothyroidism can both cause high triglycerides – because they cause the body to be less efficient in using the glucose in the blood. If you have either of these conditions then, you should discuss with your doctor how to manage them so that you might be able to avoid this side effect.
Drinking lots of water meanwhile can also help by ‘flushing’ the system and diluting the amount of triglycerides; as can eating lots of dietary fiber which won’t be broken down by the body and which as such can help to ‘clear out’ the arteries. Of course at the same time if you are a smoker or a drinker then you should attempt to limit these activities as much as possible too.