This could also go down if you lose some weight
If you’re trying to keep track of your basic health numbers to try to live a healthy lifestyle, don’t forget about triglycerides.
They’re a kind of fat in your blood that’s often measured when you have a cholesterol test. And a high reading could signal an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, or both.
High triglycerides could be related to your genetics, but elevated levels are more often related to your diet, obesity and prediabetes, says Dr. Alan Brown, an Advocate Medical Group cardiologist based in Naperville and director of the Prevention Clinic at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
You’re more prone to having high triglycerides if you have excess weight around the abdomen, and it could be a sign that your body is becoming more resistant to insulin – a warning that you’re at increased risk for developing diabetes. High levels also put you at higher risk for heart disease, especially if you’ve already have a history of cardiovascular issues. Very high levels can lead to pancreatitis.
The good news is that there are clear ways to lower your triglycerides, and these strategies often can help with your general health anyway. Dr. Brown suggests:
- Lose weight: Obesity is clearly related to having high triglycerides. Losing weight has been shown to “precipitously” drop your levels, Dr. Brown says, even more than cholesterol.
- Avoid saturated fats: Eating a diet rich in butter and other fatty foods can raise your triglycerides levels.
- Limit sugar: Eating a lot of high-calorie simple sugars can lead to weight gain, which can lead to high triglycerides.
- Get exercise: At least 30 minutes of activity per day will help manage your weight and be good for your heart.
- Minimize alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to high triglyceride levels.
Dr. Brown says that if your levels are just a bit high, your doctor likely will encourage you to make some lifestyle changes that can help bring them back down. In cases with higher levels, doctors might prescribe medication, but making lifestyle changes is almost always the place to start.
About the Author
Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.