Medically Reviewed by Vincenta Faulkner, RD, CNSC, CCTD
You just got your lipid panel results back, only to find out you have high triglyceride levels. It is valid to feel a little worried — elevated triglyceride levels can put you at an increased risk for heart disease.
What’s more, if you have elevated cholesterol levels too, you could be at an even larger risk for heart disease. Luckily, quick fixes to your lifestyle and diet can help target and reduce your triglyceride levels.
In fact, the foods that you eat play a major role in the amount of triglycerides circulating in your bloodstream.
So, what are triglycerides, how do they differ from cholesterol, and what foods affect your levels? Find out more below with Zizi.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in your bloodstream. While too many triglycerides can put you at a greater risk for developing heart disease, it is still normal to have some level of triglycerides in your body.
In fact, your body needs triglycerides to survive.
Sounds familiar, right? If this definition made you think of cholesterol, you’re not far off! Cholesterol, too, is a waxy lipid the body naturally produces and needs to survive, and it’s also found in the bloodstream. So what’s the difference?
How Do Triglycerides Differ From Cholesterol?
For one thing, these molecules have different structures that comprise different substances. Also, these two waxy lipids have different roles in the body — cholesterol is necessary for your cell’s structure as well as its basic functions and processes, such as making hormones or conducting cellular pathways.
Alternatively, triglycerides are necessary at a more macro level for your tissue’s functions. Your body makes this type of fat in your liver. However, you also source this fat from foods you eat, such as oils or dairy products. It is relatively easy to develop excess triglycerides since your body already makes them, yet you intake more from foods.
What’s more, any time you consume more calories than you need or burn in a day, your body stores the extra calories as triglycerides in fat cell tissues throughout your body. These excess levels can put you at greater risk for heart disease.
What Foods Can I Eat To Lower My Triglyceride Levels?
Fortunately, just as certain foods may raise your triglyceride levels, certain foods and lifestyle changes may also lower your levels.
Here are Zizi’s top triglyceride-lowering food choices.
Avocado, densely packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, has a high healthy fat content. Avocado also contains a good amount of fiber, a key component of a healthy diet.
Thanks to its plentiful healthy fat and fiber content, avocado is a great food choice to incorporate into your triglyceride-lowering diet plan.
Our favorite ways to incorporate avocado into your meals are to spread some on toast, slice and eat with scrambled eggs, add it to salads, or use it as a taco topping.
2. Green, Leafy Veggies
Green or leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, arugula, and Brussels sprouts, are all brassica family members. These cruciferous veggies are extremely nutritious thanks to their high fiber content and their high polyphenol content, which can support efforts to lower triglyceride levels.
Our favorite ways to incorporate green, leafy veggies into meals, you ask? Add some to your scrambled eggs, make a nice salad, or saute some as a side dish for dinner.
3. Low-Sugar Fruits
Fresh berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are lower in sugar content when it comes to fruit; they are also high in fiber, and these qualities together make them a great triglyceride-lowering food choice. Grapefruit is another excellent low-sugar, nutritious option to target triglyceride levels.
Not to mention, all of these fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to boost your overall health!
Low-sugar fruits make a great side dish or topping for a lot of breakfast foods, and a nice salad topping at lunch. They also taste great as a snack on their own or as a delicious dessert after dinner!
4. Fatty Fish
We mentioned that avocado is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are a healthy fat source for your body. Omega-3 fats found in fish are another great fat source for your body: they are healthy fats with plenty of nutritional value.
Omega 3 fatty acids work really effectively as a substance that lowers triglyceride levels — omega 3s are a special type of fat that helps block your liver from producing triglycerides.
Not only do fatty fish comprise an ample amount of omega-3, but also protein, so they are packed with healthy nutrients to sustain you for a long time. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all great options to include in your diet.
Try some broiled salmon, fish tacos, or sardines as a snack!
It’s no doubt that oats are plentiful in fiber content, which is a great nutritional factor that helps to lower triglyceride levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. They tend to lower total overall cholesterol levels, too, which in general can inherently contribute to individually lowering your triglyceride levels on the side.
Our favorite ways to incorporate oats into your meals? Aside from the classic oatmeal, you can make granola or granola bars for breakfast or a nice snack!
6. Olive Oil
Just as fatty fish are rich in healthy monounsaturated fat, so too is olive oil.
While monounsaturated fats do not directly link to lower levels of triglycerides, you can still indirectly link them!
Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol levels and raise HDL (high density lipoprotein) levels, and HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels often have an inverse relationship — foods that raise your HDL levels tend to lower your triglyceride levels, and lower your total cholesterol levels.
Our favorite ways to incorporate olive oil into your meals: olive oil makes a great pairing with balsamic vinegar for salad dressings, as well as a great marinade component for lean, low-fat meats. Olive oil also works great as a cooking oil base!
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil may help lower triglyceride levels due to its MCT component.
Our bodies can more easily digest MCT or medium chain fatty acids, and our liver processes them more feasibly, which means that when we eat the healthy fat that comprises coconut oil, we burn this type of fat faster.
This way, we break down the fatty acids and extract their energy more immediately, rather than storing them as excess calories. MCTs may increase HDL levels, which means they support healthy levels of blood lipids.
Coconut oil tastes great when you use it as a base to saute and flavor vegetables; it also tastes great when you mix it in with homemade granola or granola bars.
8. Beans and Legumes
Packed with fiber, beans and legumes are a great way to help naturally lower your blood triglyceride levels while still getting ample daily calories. They are also rich in protein to help keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating — which means taking in excess calories that your body stores as fat.
Soybeans, in particular, have a strong penchant to help lower triglyceride levels; they comprise a compound called isoflavone, which is a plant-derived hormone that may help decrease triglyceride levels.
Try some tofu, tempeh, or edamame! Make some lentil or black bean soup, or even some bean burgers as part of a delicious lunch or dinner packed with health benefits.
Monitor Your Levels With Zizi
If you have high triglyceride levels, you may be at an increased risk for heart disease. Luckily, adjusting the types of foods you eat is an easy way to lower your triglyceride levels naturally.
In general, foods high in fiber and unsaturated fat, and low in sugar, are options that can help target your high triglyceride levels.
You can also test your triglycerides every month with Zizi’s at-home test kits so that you can monitor your progress on your diet changes and food choices. All you have to do is mail in your finger prick sample every month, and you will receive results that tell you your triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL, right on your phone.
Care comes easy with Zizi, and you can be on your way to a happier, healthier you in no time.
Learn more about lowering your cholesterol in 30 days with Zizi’s Heart Health Reset program here, or your money back.
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