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Understanding Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat that we use for energy. Our body converts any calories that we don’t immediately need into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells. When we need extra energy, the triglycerides are released from the fat cells into the blood stream and then converted to energy in muscles and organs. Having a high triglyceride level in our blood is usually caused by another health issue such as obesity, diabetes, liver disorders or genetics. Reducing triglyceride levels often involves treating the underlying cause.

It’s important, then, when working through a wellness program that you find a way to keep triglycerides at a lower, maintained level in order to avoid the health risks associated with high levels of triglycerides.

If you’re overweight, you’re already at risk for many obesity-related diseases, but you are also likely to have a high triglyceride level, based purely on the fact that the risk factors for the two are so similar. Some such factors include:

  • Ingesting more calories than you burn in a day
  • Large amounts of trans fat in a diet—fried foods, baked products, hydrogenated oil
  • High intake of alcohol

Triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. Less than 150 mg/dL is considered a normal level of triglycerides. A borderline high triglyceride level is categorized as between 150 and 199 mg/dL. A high level is between 200 and 499 mg/dL, and anything above 500 mg/dL is considered a very high triglyceride level.

Symptoms of a High Triglyceride Level

Having a higher level of triglycerides is linked to a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Risk of heart attack
  • Risk of stroke
  • Hardening of arterial walls

However, having high levels of triglycerides won’t be visible through symptoms. In fact, many people don’t realize that their triglyceride levels are too high until they’re tested for something else, such as a blood test to check their cholesterol level.

Ways to Lower Your Triglyceride Level

Diet and exercise are both key in reducing your triglyceride level and becoming more healthy overall. Here are some specific tips to lowering your triglyceride level:

  • Limit the amount of sugar and simple carbs you ingest—this includes alcohol and foods made with white flour.
  • Strictly limit, or eliminate entirely, the trans fats you’re consuming. Trans fats are found in fried and baked food and snacks, and they’re one of the largest causes for an increased triglyceride level.
  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. A short, brisk walk can give you a great cardiovascular workout that will both reduce your triglyceride and cholesterol level, as well as benefit your metabolism.
  • Losing even a moderate amount of weight can have a great impact on your triglyceride level.

Sometimes it’s the case that you’ll need more than a healthy lifestyle and eating habits to lower your triglyceride level. Doctor recommended medication can be a great supplemental way to affect your triglyceride level and overall health.