If your physician informed you that you have elevated triglyceride levels, making specific adjustments to your dietary habits should be high on your to-do list. Triglycerides are a form of fat circulating in your bloodstream. Having high triglycerides levels can raise your risk for the onset of cardiovascular problems and stroke later on in life.
But here’s the good news—the foods you eat regularly play a major role in influencing your triglyceride values. By making strategic substitutions and modifications to your diet, you can get those concerning numbers down in no time.
Sugary Foods and Beverages
Foods and drinks packed with added sugars are prime suspects triglyceride levels are increasing When you take in simple sugars, your body breaks them down quickly, resulting in a spike in blood glucose. In turn, your pancreas secretes insulin to pull that sugar out of your blood so it can be utilized by your cells for energy production.
But if your cells are already at maximum capacity for glucose, the excess gets converted into triglycerides for storage instead. Over time, constantly flooding your system with sugary foods and beverages can result in persistently high triglyceride readings.
Some examples of sugary foods and drinks to cut back on include fruit juices, regular sodas, candy, ice cream, baked goods made with added sugar, such as cookies and cakes, and cereals with extra sugar.
Even eating large amounts of fruit can spike blood glucose if you have elevated triglycerides. While fruit supplies beneficial nutrients and fiber, keeping your portions in check is wise.
Alcohol intake tends to raise triglyceride levels across the board, whether you’re sipping beer, wine, or spirits. Here’s why: Your liver responds to alcohol by churning out surplus triglycerides.
To maintain healthy numbers, it’s prudent to limit alcohol consumption if your triglycerides are high. Aim to cap alcohol at no more than two drinks daily maximum for men and just one drink maximum for women.
Refined grains, also referred to as processed grains, are troublemakers when it comes to high triglycerides. Refining strips out the nutritious bran and germ, leaving only the rapidly digesting starchy endosperm. In your body, these refined carbs act similarly to sugar by causing a swift spike in blood sugar.
Sources of refined carbs to restrict include white bread, crackers, baked goods made with white flour, instant white rice, and sugary breakfast cereals. Choose 100% whole grain products whenever possible, and look for the term “whole” as the first ingredient.
Foods high in saturated fat may also contribute to elevated triglyceride numbers for many people. You’ll find saturated fats mostly in animal-based foods, which tend to be solid at room temperature.
Sources to watch out for include red meat, poultry skin, butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, and fast food fare. Try swapping red meat for heart-healthy fish or plant proteins such as beans and tofu once or twice a week. Select low-fat dairy when feasible, limit fried and fast food, and use healthier fats such as olive oil.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated to remain solid at room temperature. This type of fat is especially detrimental to triglyceride status and overall well-being, so avoiding it is optimal.
While artificial trans fats are banned from being added to foods in the US, small amounts can still occur naturally in animal products such as meat and dairy. To minimize your intake, avoid packaged baked goods, microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, frozen pizza, and deep-fried fast foods where trans fats often linger.
Consuming too many calories from any food source can also lead to a rise in triglycerides. Even otherwise healthy foods such as nuts and olive oil can promote weight gain if eaten excessively, indirectly impacting triglycerides.
Those surplus calories get stored as body fat, and unwanted triglycerides can build up in your bloodstream. Keeping portion sizes sensible and avoiding mindless snacking is vital for maintaining healthy triglyceride status.
Other Tips to Lower Triglycerides
In addition to restricting foods that increase triglycerides, filling up on the right foods can help lower your levels into the healthy range. Here are some eating adjustments to consider:
- Increase omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s in sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and other fatty fish may decrease triglycerides. Walnuts and flaxseeds also provide ALA, a plant-based omega-3.
- Eat more fiber-rich vegetables. Non-starchy veggies are full of fiber and have a low calorie and fat content. Smart picks include leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and asparagus.
- Choose whole grains over refined ones. Opting for whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and other intact whole grains provides more nutrients, protein, and fiber than refined grains.
- Limit added sugars and refined carbs. Reduce sweets, soda, juice, white bread, and pasta to prevent triglyceride spikes.
- Manage other conditions. Health issues such as diabetes and hypothyroidism under optimal control can help lower elevated triglycerides.
Lower Your Triglyceride Levels with the Help of Imperial Family Center Medicine
Intentional food choices are vital if you have high triglycerides. Prioritize limiting sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, refined grains, saturated fats, trans fats, and excess calories. Emphasize heart-healthy fats, fiber-rich whole grains and vegetables, lean proteins, and omega-3s. Adopting the DASH diet can benefit both triglycerides and hypertension.
Getting your triglyceride levels under control through lifestyle reduces cardiovascular disease risk. And with the help of Imperial Family Center Medicine, you can optimize your triglycerides so you can live your healthiest life. Contact us today at 919-873-4437 or online, and let us provide the personalized care you need.