BellaOnline’s Nutrition Editor
What’s the best diet to lower triglycerides? And why is lowering triglycerides so important in the first place? The answers may surprise you.
For years high cholesterol has gotten most of the press, but recently researchers discovered that high triglyceride levels may be the most significant indicator of both stroke and heart disease – no matter what your total cholesterol count is.
High Triglycerides Research
Here are three good reasons why a diet to lower triglycerides is so important:
- First of all, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, if your triglycerides are high, you have two or three times the risk of heart disease and stroke – even if you have low cholesterol. [Vol. 86: 943-49]
- Secondly, drugs for lowering triglycerides have serious side effects. That’s why the American Heart Association recommends medications should only be considered after every other natural avenue for lowering triglycerides has been exhausted.
- And number three, a good diet to lower triglycerides has been shown to cut your risk of stroke and sudden cardiac death by nearly half.
Triglyceride levels over 200 mg/dl are considered high and put you at serious risk. Over 500 mg/dl would be extremely high. Even 150 to 199 mg/dl are thought to be borderline-high. To totally minimize your risk, aim for a count below 150 mg/dl.
The Best Diet for Lowering Triglycerides
Since triglycerides are forms of fats, you might think that less fat in the diet would be the most important step. However, it’s not. The main culprit is sugar!
That’s right, high glycemic carbohydrates are the most significant dietary predictors of high triglycerides and the most important foods to avoid. Sugar’s the reason even a little alcohol has been shown to create large increases in blood plasma triglycerides.
Begin with a good heart healthy food plan:
- Eat more lean protein and fresh vegetables.
- Switch from high glycemic carbohydrates to a high fiber low glycemic diet.
- Replace saturated and trans-fats with good fats.
- Lower total fats to 30% of calories.
- Reduce daily calorie intake to maintain optimum weight.
- Add 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
- And, if you smoke or drink, quit.
The Triglyceride Fish Factor
The best heart healthy food you can add to your diet is oily cold water fish, at least three times a week. This one change in your diet can reduce your triglycerides significantly.
According to research and the American Heart Association (AHA), the DHA and EPA fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish, not only decrease triglycerides, but these good fats can also cut your risk of stroke and sudden cardiac death by more than 44%.
What’s more, omega 3 fish oil has been shown to reduce irregular heartbeat, blood clotting, hardening of the arteries, overall cholesterol and blood pressure.
The AHA and others recommend everyone with heart concerns or issues take daily fish oil supplements with balanced DHA and EPA, no matter how much fish they eat.
Other Fish Oil Health Benefits
And a healthier heart isn’t the only benefit. Fish oil can also help prevent and relieve arthritis, cancer, diabetes, emphysema, ADHD and depression – just to name a few.