Triglycerides: Why They Matter and How to Lower Them

by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in foods and in your body. When you eat foods containing fat and oil, such as butter, French fries and chocolate chip cookies, the body takes the fat and stores it in your body as triglycerides. You want your triglycerides to be below 150 mg/dL. Triglycerides are high-risk above 200 mg/dL.

Woman eating chocolate bar at her desk.

Limit simple sugars

Unlike other types of cholesterol, triglycerides are affected by sugars you eat. You need to limit foods such as soft drinks, candy, baked goods, syrup, table sugar, jelly and honey. A high intake of fruit juice can also raise triglyceride levels since juice contains a high content of natural sugars.

White wine toast.

Limit alcohol

If your triglycerides are borderline high or high risk, discuss your alcohol intake with your MD. My recommendation for borderline high (200-500 mg/dL) is to limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks per day for men. If your triglyceride level is high risk (greater than 200 mg/dL), I recommend to reduce alcholol even further to stop drinking alcholol all together.

Woman standing on scale.

Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight

Many times weight loss alone will lower your triglycerides. Losing as little as 10 percent body weight could drop your triglycerides back to the normal range depending on where you are starting from.

Woman mixing salad in wooden bowl.

Choose a low-fat diet

To achieve lower triglyceride levels, maintain a dietary intake of 30 percent or less of total calories coming from fat. A healthy diet for normal triglyceride levels should consist of whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meat.

Women in exercise class.

Increase your physical activity

Boosting your activity can lower your triglycerides up to 40 percent. To reduce triglycerides, be physically active at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days each week. Remember, triglycerides aren't all bad. They provide efficient energy storage, transport certain vitamins and provide insulation. What's important is to keep them under control!

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Meet Our Writer
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so you can live life and enjoy your family for years to come. Lisa's passion for health comes from her own family history of heart disease, so she doesn't dispense trendy treatments; Lisa practices what she teaches in her own daily life. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques.