Triglycerides are fats that are formed when the calories that we consume are not used immediately. High triglycerides are worrisome as they can lead to serious cardiovascular issues. Do you know how to lower triglycerides naturally? You can lower your triglyceride levels by my making some simple lifestyle changes like exercising regularly and eating healthier foods such as nuts, high fiber foods, soy, grapes, spinach, etc.
Let us learn some more about triglycerides, their harmful effects and how to lower triglycerides naturally.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood. When we eat, our body converts the calories that it doesn’t immediately use into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in our fats cells.
These triglycerides are later used for energy by the body between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn then you will have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
What are normal levels of triglycerides?
You can find out if your triglycerides are in the normal level through a simple blood test. Your triglyceride levels are checked as a part of the lipid profile test. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program the guidelines for triglyceride levels are:
- Normal – Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Borderline high – 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High – 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high – 500 mg/dL or above
Harmful effects of high triglycerides
1. Can cause pancreatitis
High triglycerides can cause swelling of the pancreas (1). This swelling can lead to belly pain, vomiting, and fever. The pancreas produces digestive juices that our body needs for food absorption. If digestive juices leak out of the pancreas, it can be life-threatening.
2. Can increase the risk of type-2 diabetes
High triglycerides levels are one of the signs of the metabolic syndrome. Some of the other dangers of metabolic syndrome include increased belly fat, high blood pressure, low HDL and high blood sugar.
High triglycerides, along with any of these two symptoms, can increase the risk of developing diabetes by five times (2).
3. Increased risk for stroke
High triglyceride levels can increase your levels of stroke (3). High levels of triglycerides in the blood can restrict blood flow within the vessels that supply to the brain.
4. Higher risk for heart disease
Very high levels of triglycerides can up your risk of having a heart attack by four times. The heart attack happens when high amounts of fat deposits build up inside the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the heart muscles (4).
5. Can cause liver disease
Fat accumulation in the liver can scar your liver, cause cancer and can also lead to liver failure. The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when fat replaces more than 10 percent of the liver.
High triglycerides are one of the most common causes of NAFLD (5).
6. Can cause peripheral artery disease
High triglycerides levels can cause peripheral artery disease. Excessive fat in the blood leads to deposits in the arteries that flow to the legs and can lead to peripheral artery disease or PAD. PAD can lead to pain and numbness in the legs.
7. Can cause dementia
Studies have shown that high triglyceride levels can damage blood vessels inside the brain (6) and this can lead to dementia.
How to lower triglycerides naturally?
Almost 25 percent of adults in the US have high triglycerides. Obesity, high-calorie diet, alcohol consumption and uncontrolled diabetes are some of the reasons for high triglyceride levels.
Here are some ways in which you can lower triglycerides.
1. Lose weight
Losing weight is the most effective way to lower triglyceride levels in your blood. According to research, even a 5 to 10 percent loss in body weight can lower blood triglycerides by 40 mg/Dl (7).
According to studies weight loss has a lasting effect on triglycerides, even if you do eventually gain back some of the weight. When a study was done on the dropouts of a weight reduction programme, researchers observed that their triglyceride levels did not rise (8).
2. Start exercising
Regular exercise can be a big help if you want to lower triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
According to a study done on 21 obese men, weight loss along with aerobic exercise is the most effective in lowering blood triglycerides (9).
Aerobic activity is the most effective way to lower triglycerides. So whether it is bicycling, running, swimming or tennis, pick the sport of our choice are do it regularly.
According to a study, long-term exercise regimens lead to a significant decline in blood triglycerides (10).
3. Say no to sugar
Reduce your intake of sugar if you have high triglycerides. Watch out for food products that are made with added sugars like soda, fruit juice, baked products, breakfast cereals, and flavored yogurts. Fructose, the sugars usually found in fruits, also raises blood triglycerides.
- Suggested read: Sugar Busters Diet
According to The American Heart Association recommendations, we should consume between 6 to 9 teaspoons of sugar a day. However, an average American consumes about 19 teaspoons of sugar daily.
A 2014 study on children in the age group of 7 to 12 years observed that added sugars could increase diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides in children (11).
We must read the food labels of processed food carefully and spot the added sugar in them. Look out for words ending with ‘ose’ (fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose), cane syrup, cane sugar, honey, molasses and raw sugar.
4. Eat more fiber
Eating more fiber can help lower your triglycerides. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, cereals, and legumes are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Cut out food made from refined flour in your diet and shift to those made with whole grains.
When you include fiber in your diet, it decreases the absorption of fat and sugars in your small intestine. This helps lower the triglycerides in the blood (12).
According to a study that observed the effects of high-fiber and low-fiber diet on blood sugar, it was found that low fiber diet could cause triglycerides to jump up by 45 percent in just six days (13).
Choose from that contain mono and polyunsaturated fats and avoid trans fats that are found in processed food. Consuming trans fats can lead to many health problems including high LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease (14).
Eating trans fats also leads to an increase in triglyceride levels. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduced serum triglyceride levels by decreasing free fatty acid delivery to the liver.
6. Follow a low-carb diet
Researchers have discovered that low-carb diets lead to a significant reduction in triglyceride levels. According to a 2006 study when the participants of the trial were given a low carb diet which took 26 percent calories from carbohydrates, their triglyceride levels dropped much more than when they consumed a diet that received 54 percent of its calories from carbohydrates (15).
Another study discovered that low-carb diets are much better at lowering triglyceride levels than low-fat diets.
7. Cut back on alcohol
Alcohol is rich in calories and sugar and can very quickly and negatively impact your triglyceride levels. If you already have high triglyceride levels, alcohol consumption should be avoided.
According to some studies, even moderate levels of alcohol consumption can increase triglyceride levels by 53 percent (16).
8. Eat more nuts
Adding more nuts to your diets can lower triglyceride levels. According to a 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, eating nuts can reduce your triglyceride levels by more than 10 percent.
According to an analysis of 61 studies, tree nut intake can lower triglycerides by 2.2 mg/dL (17). Some of the tree nuts that you can add to your diet include almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts and Macadamia nuts.
9. Add soy to your diet
Consuming soy protein can lower triglyceride levels. Soybeans and soy products like edamame, tofu, and soy milk are rich in isoflavones which is helpful in lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerol (18). You can consume soy free diet foods if you have a soy allergy.
According to a meta-analysis of 23 studies, it was found that consumption of soy protein can lead to a 7.3 decline in triglycerides (19).
10. Eat fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon, herring, tuna, and mackerel are known to improve heart health and help lower triglycerides. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of oily fish in a week. Fatty fish helps reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 36 percent (20).
11. Eat grapes
Ditch candy and other sweet desserts, opt for naturally sweet grapes instead. Grapes contain pterostilbene, a natural compound that lowers triglycerates.
This compound is similar to resveratrol, an antioxidant present in red wine. Blueberries are also a rich source of pterostilbene.
12. Have spinach
Spinach contains alpha-lipoic acid, which plays a vital role in lowering triglycerides (21). It is also one of the best iron rich foods. Brussels sprouts, peas and broccoli also contain alpha-lipoic acid.
Tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are some of the fruits that are also rich in alpha-lipoic acid.
13. Eat small, more frequent meals
Eating small, more frequent meals can lower triglyceride levels while large irregular meals can lead to high triglyceride levels.
This happens because large irregular meals can lead to insulin resistance in the body. According to research irregular meal frequency can lead to insulin resistance in the body (22).
14. Opt for natural supplements
These natural supplements can reduce blood triglyceride levels.
- Fish Oil – Fish oil is highly beneficial for health. According to one study intake of vitamin E rich fish oil can lower triglyceride levels by 48 percent (23).
- Fenugreek – According to a clinical trial on 88 diabetic patients, fenugreek seeds are helpful in lowering triglyceride levels (24).
- Garlic extract – According to a study on rats raw and boiled extracts of garlic can reduce triglyceride levels by 38 percent thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties(25).
- Guggul – Guggul is helpful in lowering triglycerides in patients with high cholesterol (26).
- Curcumin – Curcumin extracts of turmeric can cause a significant drop in triglyceride levels in middle-aged people (27).
Final thoughts on how to lower triglyceride
Unhealthy diet and lifestyle can lead to high triglyceride levels. However, some simple changes to our lifestyle and diet like regular exercise and low carb diet can decrease the blood triglycerides and improve our overall health.