How to Lower Triglycerides to Normal Levels

How to Lower Triglycerides to Normal Levels

Question:

In my recent blood test, my triglycerides were borderline high. How do I get my triglycerides down to acceptable levels?

– Anthony C.

Answer:

Triglycerides in the blood are basically free-floating fats that are not bound to cholesterol. A lab value showing hypertriglyceridemia is an indication of increased risk for stroke, heart attack, and heart disease, or maybe a sign of other medical conditions. Dietary factors that increase triglyceride levels include alcohol, excess carbohydrate, sugars, and calories.

Here are tips for lowering blood triglycerides:

  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates – Limit starchy foods, sugary drinks, and caloric sweeteners. Avoid added sugars and desserts. Choose whole grains over white flour products. Consider limiting calories from carbohydrates to 60% of all calories.
  • Choose healthier fats – Reduce saturated and trans-fat. Eat the lowest-fat dairy and animal proteins available. Instead of cheese or eggs, choose plant proteins. Snack on nuts and seeds versus fried pork skins. Instead of fatty meats containing saturated fat, choose fish with omega-3 unsaturated fat. Opt for oil-based dressing and sauces over cream-based ones.
  • Limit alcohol – Consume fewer alcoholic beverages.
  • Exercise regularly – A healthy minimum for physical activity is 150 minutes (30 mins x 5 times) of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Lose weight – If you are overweight, losing just 5% body weight can lower triglycerides.

Sources:

  1. Foods to Avoid If You Have High Triglycerides. Web MD.  https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/ss/slideshow-triglyceride-foods-to-avoid
  2. Triglycerides: Frequently Asked Questions. American Heart Association.  www.my.americanheart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_425988.pdf
  3. Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter? The Mayo Clinic, 9.13.2018 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Understanding Basic Nutrient Needs

Understanding Basic Nutrient Needs

Question:

Hi, my name is Allison and I joined LA Fitness this summer. My very basic question is, what ARE the nutrient needs of a basic adult?  (I’m female, 5’4″, 135 lbs. and trying to shed 5 -10 lbs., work out 3-4x/ week and walk on off days). I just want to know what the basic categories of things are a person needs. I’ve heard about nutrients being macros (fat protein carb) and micro (vitamins and minerals) but I’ve also heard nutritionists online say to get fiber and leafy greens and antioxidants and others say lots of veggies and lean meat – and I know they’re all related and many of them overlap- so I guess I’m just confused about what to seek out in my diet. Thank you SO much.

– Allison T.

Answer:

Allison, based on your anthropometrics and level of exercise your daily nutrient needs may fall into the following ranges (provided for a 30-year-old woman):

  •                 1,900-2,400 Calories
  •                 63-80 gms Fat (30% calories)
  •                 61-92 gms Protein (1.0-1.5 gram/kg)
  •                 240-300 gms Carbohydrate (50% calories) including 25 gms Fiber (standard daily value)

Please see the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intake tables for vitamins and minerals for your intake targets of 29 micronutrients. Antioxidant action is an important function of certain micronutrients and phytochemicals (beneficial compounds found in plants), so we call those antioxidants.

As far as basic nutrients, you just need to add one thing to your list of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals – water! It is a macronutrient since we need such large volumes of it. Since it doesn’t provide calories, water is not often regarded the same as the 3 energy-yielding macronutrients. Exact requirements are not specified by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, but the adequate intake of water is 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women, including beverages and water derived from solid food.

You can look at nutrient numbers specifically now and then, but to ease the confusion just focus on your dietary habits and overall consumption to obtain sources of those nutrients. What you should seek out in your diet are plant-based protein sources, raw produce of every color, the most wholesome grains, the leanest animal foods, and unsweetened beverages… in amounts that just satisfy you. Those recommendations can be suited to every culture and worldly food belief. Sounds a lot simpler to me!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

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Low Carb and Fat for Cholesterol

Low Carb and Fat for Cholesterol

Question:

Hello. Both of my cholesterols are borderline, and my doctor and I agreed not to start on any medication. Instead, a low-carb, low-fat diet is what I’m looking forward to doing. What should I look for in food labels? Fat grams? Total fat? Carbs? Trans fat? There’s so much info. I’m confused. How much do I need of what? Thanks.

– Patricia D.

Answer:

Hi Patricia! Exact nutrition targets would depend on your full lipid profile, so you should consider taking your lab results to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for a personalized prescription. You’re right that there is so much information – because it is such a complex situation with multiple factors. While I can’t clarify how much YOU need, I can explain which fats and carbs impact each lipid, and what are the major sources of those macronutrients.

  • If total cholesterol is too high AND it is due to the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or other undesirable components being elevated, then take action to reduce those measures. Having a very high level of the desirable high-density lipoprotein (HDL) could push total cholesterol to a high number, but that situation may not be a concern.
  • If the LDL cholesterol is high, then decreasing total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat while increasing fiber may help reduce LDL.
  • If HDL cholesterol is low, then decreasing trans fat, opting for unsaturated fats, consuming alcohol in moderation, quitting smoking, increasing exercise, and losing extra weight may raise HDL levels.
  • If triglycerides are too high, then decreasing refined carbohydrates and saturated fat, limiting alcohol and increasing omega-3 fat, losing excess weight, and exercising may improve triglycerides.

TOTAL FAT – The daily reference value for total fat in a 2,000-calorie diet is 65 grams per day, representing a limit of 30% calories. Major sources are fried foods, animal products including dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives. Oils and butter and pure fat. Some desserts and condiments are nearly all fat calories.

SATURATED FAT – The daily reference value for saturated fat in a 2,000-calorie diet is 20 grams, representing a limit of 10% calories. Saturated fat is the type which is solid at room temperature. Mainly from animal sources, palm and coconut. Major sources include cheese, butter, cream, ground beef, bacon, fatty cuts of meat and foods fried in lard or sautéed in butter.

TRANS FAT – Created during the hydrogenation of vegetable oils, this very harmful fat is found primarily in processed foods and animal products. No known safe amount. In 2015 the FDA stated, “…there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in human food.

UNSATURATED FAT – Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are predominantly found in plant foods. Avocados, olives, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are major sources.

OMEGA-3 FAT – A particular kind of polyunsaturated fat that is predominantly from mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon and trout. Notable sources include other fish and seafood, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil.

FIBER – The daily reference value for dietary fiber in a 2,000 calorie diet is 25 grams, representing a minimum of 1.5 grams per 100 calories. Soluble fibers are the type that directly help to reduce cholesterol. Major sources include oats, beans, peas, lentils, apples, pears, barley, and prunes.

REFINED CARBOHYDRATES – Albeit from natural sources, white flour and added sugars are not the same as their wholesome counterparts. Refined carbs include pastries, many cereals, flour tortillas, breading on fried foods, regular pasta, pretzels, and the ingredient maltodextrin.  Added sugars should comprise no more than 10% calories according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Added sugars can come from sugars (any kind; usually end in “ose”), syrups, glazes, honey, fruit juice concentrate, and molasses in products such as candy, desserts, soft drinks, and sweetened cereals.

ALCOHOL – A moderate consumption of ethanol-containing beverages means 1 drink per day for men and no more than 2 drinks per day for women. A serving size depends on the beverage’s alcohol percentage: 1.5 oz liquor (80 proof = 40% alcohol); 5 oz wine (12% alcohol); 12 fl oz beer (5% alcohol).

Sources:

American Heart Association

  1. http://heartinsight.heart.org/Summer-2015/How-Do-I-Increase-My-Good-Cholesterol/
  2. http://www.my.americanheart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_425988.pdf

Web MD

  1. https://www.webmd.com/heart/how-to-boost-your-good-cholesterol
  2. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/lowering-triglyceride-levels#1

Mayo Clinic

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/hdl-cholesterol/art-20046388
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Breakfast for Vegans

Breakfast for Vegans

Question:

My question is about breakfast for vegans. I’m avoiding carbs, grains, gluten. I don’t eat bread, pasta, grains. What would you recommend for breakfast?

– Siposs V.

Answer:

Think outside the breakfast box when it comes to morning meals with selective ingredients! You can adapt traditional breakfast foods by substituting for the grains or transform meals otherwise considered for lunch/dinner.

Some tasty options for a vegan grain-free breakfast include:

  • coconut milk and chia seed pudding
  • fruit and soy yogurt smoothie
  • potato and spinach hashbrown patties
  • sweet potato bowl with pomegranate arils and pecans
  • nut date coconut bar
  • avocado and black bean salad with grilled tomatoes

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How to Stop Retaining Water

How to Stop Retaining Water

Question:

How can I stop retaining water? I am constantly bloated and cannot lose weight. What are some suggestions?

– Leslie

Answer:

To stop retaining water, decrease bloat and reduce water weight I’d recommend three basic actions: limit higher sodium foods, hydrate well and avoid known gas-forming foods.

SODIUM

Sodium in salt and other preservatives makes the body hold water within tissues instead of inside cells where it should be. Cut back on pre-packaged foods (like frozen items and restaurant meals) and highly processed items (like condiments and engineered products). Potassium helps water get inside cells and stay there. Get plenty of potassium from good sources like avocado, winter squash, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes.

HYDRATION

Your body may be less likely to hold onto water if there is plenty of it flowing freely. By drinking more fluids and eating water-filled foods, you may be less likely to retain water and more apt to flush out sodium, keep cells hydrated and achieve proper digestion. Watermelon and cucumbers are not only watery, they contain anti-inflammatory compounds to fight swelling. Sip on debloating teas made with mint or spices like cinnamon and ginger.

GAS PRODUCTION

Have smaller portions of gas forming foods that are cooked well. Chew them slowly & thoroughly. High fiber foods (like beans and broccoli), dairy products, and sorbitol – a sugar alcohol found in chewing gum and fruits (like apples, peaches, and pears) could all be bloated belly culprits.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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