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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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The New Lipid to Watch

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You have no doubt heard a lot about HDL, or good cholesterol, and LDL, or bad cholesterol. You have probably seen triglycerides on your lab results, but unless it was really high, your doctor may not have even mentioned it to you. That may change based on some recent research. Triglycerides are not new, but watching them more carefully may be. The percentage of US adults with high triglycerides has doubled in the past 30 years. The cause is thought to be from the obesity epidemic we are facing.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that triglycerides were predictive of stroke caused by a blood clot. We are often used to fasting for blood tests, but these researchers found that nonfasting levels of triglycerides were even better at predicting risk of stroke than fasting levels.

Triglycerides 101
Triglycerides are simply another type of fat found in your blood. They are the fats found stored in fat tissue, and they are the same chemical structure of the fats we eat. When we eat food, the body uses food for energy. If we eat too much, it will store this extra energy as triglycerides in fat tissue on the body.

A normal and desirable blood value for triglycerides is less than 150 mg/dl.

5 Ways to Lower Triglycerides
  1. Lose body fat. Losing weight is by far the best way to decrease the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Exercise will help you lose weight faster and also help to lower triglycerides.
  2. Don't eat too much fat. Even olive oil can raise triglycerides if you eat too much. In fact, any calorie in excess can quite easily be turned into a triglyceride whether it comes from fat, protein, carbs, or alcohol.
  3. Limit alcohol. Alcohol has been shown in numerous studies to cause the body to produce more triglycerides.
  4. Limit concentrated sweets. Even though triglycerides are a fat in the blood, eating too many sweets can cause the body to produce more of them. Often people who are diabetic have high triglyceride levels.
  5. Take fish oil tablets. New studies are showing great promise that taking supplemental fish oil (omega-3s) can help lower triglycerides. Some doctors prescribe as much as 3-4 grams (3000-4000 mg) per day. Check with your doctor for the appropriate dose for you.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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