By Kellie McLain, ANP-C, CLS
Triglycerides (TGs) are the “fat” part of the cholesterol in the bloodstream. Every time we consume food, our body digests the fats from the food and releases TGs into the bloodstream. They are then transported throughout the body to be used as energy or stored as fat. The liver is also responsible for manufacturing TGs and has the ability to transform any source of excess calories into TGs.
Here’s the skinny on TGs and how you can reduce the amount of TGs in your diet:
- Aim for a TG level of 125 or less. Levels higher than this can lead to an increase in the LDL particle number, which can increase cardiovascular risk.
- Increase your physical activity! Walking for for at least 30 minutes on five days a week outside of your normal activity will help.
- Restrict or ideally eliminate foods that are high in triglycerides. See the list below for some examples.
Food and drinks high in triglycerides:
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, hard liquor and liqueurs
- Saturated fats: Fats solid at room temperature, including animal fats, lard, butter and shortening. Also, fried foods, whole milk, whole milk dairy products, cheese, cream cheese, high-fat meats and fast foods
- Trans fats: Hydrogenated fats found in margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, fast foods and most commercial snack foods such as pastries, cakes, pies, crackers, etc.
- Sugar: Concentrated sweets such as sugar, honey, molasses, jams, jellies and candy. Desserts such as pies, cakes, cookies, candy, doughnuts, ice cream, frozen yogurt and sweetened gelatin
- Beverages: Fruit juices, fruit drinks, fruit punches, regular sodas, smoothies, sports drinks and sweetened coffee drinks
- Other foods: Sweetened cereals, flavored yogurts and sports or energy bars
- Starch: Concentrated starchy foods like bagels, pasta, rice, potatoes, large rolls, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, chips, many fat-free foods and ready-to-eat cereals. Choose small portions of these due to their high carbohydrate density. Use whole grains and legumes (starchy beans) in preference to refined starches
Kellie McLain is a Certified Advanced Nurse Practioner and Clinical Lipid Specialist with the MUSC Seinsheimer Cardiovascular Prevention and Lipid Program