Triglycerides and Healthy Hearts

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Most people are aware that consuming a high-fat diet can lead to heart disease, but few people associate a high sugar diet with the health condition. However, a diet high in simple sugars and excess calories can lead to an elevated triglyceride level, which is linked to coronary artery disease.

    Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. They are also a major source of energy. Triglycerides are found in foods and are also manufactured by your body from excess calories. A high triglyceride level can lead to coronary artery disease in some people.

    Elevated triglycerides are also a part of metabolic syndrome, a condition seen in 25 percent of American adults. This health condition is a major contributor to heart disease. Metabolic Syndrome encompasses a group of risk factors that significantly increase the risk of coronary events. Metabolic syndrome, also called syndrome X, is diagnosed when a person has three or more of the following risk factors:
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    • Abdominal obesity
    • Elevated triglycerides
    • Low HDL or healthy cholesterol
    • Elevated blood sugar
    • Elevated blood pressure

    Calories that you consume that are not immediately used by the body for energy are converted to triglycerides and stored in the fat cells. Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides from the fat tissue to meet the body’s energy needs between meals. Overeating can lead to elevated triglyceride levels.

    If you have a high triglyceride level, above 200 mg./dl, small lifestyle changes can help you lower it and reduce your risk of heart disease. Try to cut down on simple sugars and excess calories because they are stored as triglycerides. Limit concentrated sweets like sugar, honey, molasses, jams, candies and baked goods. Avoid alcohol like beer, wine and hard liquor because any amount of alcohol can cause large increases in your triglyceride level.

    A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids instead of meats that are high in saturated fat can also help reduced triglycerides. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon. When you do eat red meat and poultry, use healthy cooking methods like grilling, broiling and roasting to reduce the amount of saturated fat. And focus on healthy oils like canola, olive and peanut oil. Exercise can also help improve your triglyceride level. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most or all days of the week.

Published On: February 21, 2007