Medically Reviewed by Vincenta Faulkner, RD, CNSC, CCTD
You’ve probably heard of high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia.
Pediatricians often start to ask about family history of hypercholesterolemia or heart disease at an early age and even test kids’ levels around age nine.
You’ve probably known about hypercholesterolemia for a while — but what about hypertriglyceridemia? Do high triglycerides pose a risk to your heart’s health, and what can you do to lower your levels?
High triglyceride levels can adversely affect your heart’s health. Luckily, there is a way to naturally lower triglyceride levels through your diet.
The foods you eat play a huge role in your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Let’s explore triglycerides and ways to lower your levels through diet and lifestyle changes with Zizi.
What Are Triglycerides?
In their most simple definition, triglycerides are a type of fat.
More generally, they are a type of lipid, which is an organic compound that comprises nonpolar molecules your body stores in your adipose or fat tissues. When it comes to triglycerides, they normally circulate in your bloodstream and provide your body with short-term energy between meals.
However, when you consume too many calories, your body still breaks down your food into triglycerides, but this time stores them in your fat cells for later energy. This usually happens when you eat more calories than you burn in a day: your body makes and stores these excess calories for future needs as triglyceride lipids in your fat tissue and extracts them later.
What Is Considered a High Triglyceride Level?
When you get your lipid panel results back, the test usually includes triglyceride levels as a biomarker. While normal levels vary from person to person, and what is high in one individual could be normal in another individual with a different medical and physical health history, there are general guidelines for triglycerides.
For adults, normal triglyceride levels, according to general recommendations, are those that fall under the 150 mg/dL mark. If your results fall between 151 to 199 mg/dL, your triglyceride levels may be considered borderline high, and if they are above 200 mg/dL, they may be considered high.
What Causes High Triglycerides?
Sometimes, genetics influence triglyceride levels — if you have a family history of high levels, this makes you more prone to higher levels as well. Certain disorders, such as thyroid disease, may put you at greater risk for higher levels.
However, a more likely contributing factor is your lifestyle, especially your diet.
If you eat a diet that is high in processed or refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, your triglyceride levels may be high. Refined or processed carbohydrate foods include cakes, cookies, donuts, and fried foods.
Unhealthy fats include foods high in saturated or trans fat, such as red meat or full-fat dairy products like butter, whole milk, or cream. You should avoid or limit these foods if you want to lower your triglyceride levels.
What foods can you eat instead? Let’s explore this next.
How Can I Make My Diet Triglyceride-Friendly?
A triglyceride-friendly, healthy diet includes many whole, unprocessed carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. This means a diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains like brown rice.
A triglyceride-friendly diet also incorporates lots of healthy fats and protein. Healthy fats include poly and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, salmon, walnuts, or avocados.
High protein foods include lean meats, eggs, beans, and nut butter such as peanut butter. You should also try to limit your sugary foods and drinks — not just baked goods or other sweet foods but also sweet drinks like alcohol or soda.
What Are Some Triglyceride Diet Plans I Can Follow?
Check out our top foods to lower triglyceride levels for more insight into a heart-healthy diet.
These foods — which include avocado, green leafy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, fatty fish, whole grain oats, olive oil, coconut oil, beans, and legumes — are easy to incorporate into meals at any time of day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Here is a sample four-day diet plan from Zizi to get you started.
We encourage you to get creative, too! Adjust this plan to your likes and dislikes and have fun with it.
For a more comprehensive triglyceride-lowering meal plan, check out Zizi’s 7-Day Diet Plan To Lower Triglycerides.
Breakfast: Whole grain oatmeal topped with nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pistachio) and mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries).
Lunch: Wraps with whole wheat tortillas, spinach, low-fat shredded cheese, and lean meat.
Dinner: Broiled or baked salmon with pilaf or whole grain couscous and roasted vegetables (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or broccoli).
Breakfast: A slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter and banana slices.
Lunch: A salad with arugula and kale as the base, topped with strawberries, walnut pieces, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing.
Dinner: Tacos on whole wheat tortillas with roasted cauliflower, sweet potato, lentils, quinoa, and avocado filling.
Breakfast: Low-fat yogurt with mixed berries, topped with whole grain granola for complex carbs and a honey drizzle.
Lunch: Vegetable sausage and cooked cabbage, sauteed with onions and broccoli.
Dinner: Stir fry with whole grain rice, tofu, and vegetables.
Breakfast: Treat yourself to some pancakes or waffles. Just be sure to make them with whole wheat flour or buckwheat flour, and don’t forget to limit the butter and syrup. Instead, you can make them sweet by adding blueberries or strawberries and a drizzle of honey!
Lunch: Chickpea salad: chickpeas mixed with arugula, avocado, and tomato, with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Enjoy a slice of whole wheat toast dipped in olive oil and sprinkled with herbs or garlic on the side.
Dinner: Whole grain pasta with roasted zucchini and brussels sprouts and a side kale salad.
What Foods Are Not Triglyceride-Friendly?
Now that you know what foods to choose when you build your triglyceride-friendly meal plan, let’s take a look at certain foods that you should limit or leave out in your plan.
Two huge contributors to your increased triglyceride levels could be sugars and refined carbohydrates.
Sugars are known to contribute to a higher level of triglycerides that circulate in your bloodstream and leave your lipid panel results with high numbers. Sometimes sugar can be good, particularly when it comes from naturally-derived sources such as fruit.
However, when sugar comes from external sources, this added sugar can directly contribute to elevated triglyceride levels. Foods such as cookies, cakes, donuts, or processed options like sugary breakfast cereals, input a lot of added sugar into our bodies.
It is also easy to consume excess sugar through beverages — we often add sugar to coffee or tea, or maybe we like to drink alcohol or soda, both of which contain unhealthy amounts of sugar.
Refined or Processed Carbohydrates
Aside from sugar, complex carbohydrates that go through processing or refining to create the final food product are often unhealthy and contribute to high triglyceride levels.
So, the next time you come to a choice between white or wheat bread, for example, choose that wheat or whole grain option!
Unhealthy fats include saturated or trans fat. These types of fat are not healthy for your heart and can elevate your triglyceride levels.
Try to limit your red meat and full-fat dairy consumption in particular, and instead opt for foods with mono or polyunsaturated fat, such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel.
How Can I Monitor My Triglyceride Levels?
The best way to monitor your triglyceride levels is through testing; a lipid panel usually includes a comprehensive array of biomarkers, including total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and, you guessed it, triglycerides.
At Zizi, we provide monthly, at-home cholesterol testing with test kits that are easy to use from the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is prick your finger once a month and mail in your sample; your results will come to your phone through our web app!
You also have access to a plant-first nutrition program to enhance your triglyceride diet plan — and potentially lower your triglyceride levels within six months.
Detect, Treat, and Prevent With Zizi
For the most triglyceride-friendly diet, opt for foods or meals rich in whole, unprocessed carbohydrates, healthy fat, protein, fruits, and vegetables. As you incorporate these food changes into your diet to reflect your triglyceride level goals, you should test your levels monthly to track your progress.
At Zizi, we believe that heart health starts at home, which is why we make heart health easy with our at-home kits to monitor your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
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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