It can cause a great deal of distress to discover that you have high triglyceride levels. After all, the higher your number, the greater your risk of developing heart disease. Fortunately, there’s good news when facing the uncertainty that comes with suffering from high triglyceride levels.
By changing a few bad habits and daily routines, you can lower your levels and keep your heart healthy for years to come.
Watch What You Drink
If you drink beverages like soda, sweetened fruit juice or tea, you’re placing your heart and weight at risk. These types of beverages contain fructose and sugar, both of which studies have shown can raise an individual’s triglyceride levels. The extra calories contained in these drinks can also lead to weight gain, which places added strain on your heart, while raising your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Instead of reaching for an artificially sweetened beverage next time you want to quench your thirst, consider drinking a glass of water instead. Convenient and inexpensive, water makes for the preferred thirst quenchers, and can even help you lose weight. If you just can’t say no to your favorite beverage, consider enjoying an artificially sweetened soft drink -such as diet soda – as studies have found they are less likely to increase triglyceride levels.
Change Your Diet
If like most Americans, your diet probably contains too many servings of starch and processed flour per week. Foods like potatoes, white rice, pasta and white bread can all raise your triglyceride levels when eaten in abundance and offer little nutritional value.
Becoming heart healthy means changing the way you eat in addition to how much you eat. Focus on adding more whole-grain breads and pastas to your diet, while also increasing the number of servings a week of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat. Instead of relying on potatoes as a staple of every meal, trying adding grains like barely, quinoa, and brown rice instead.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the bloodstream. This means if you eat a lot of red meat and other foods high in saturated fat, you’re helping to boost your triglyceride levels with every bite. While protein remains an important part of a healthy diet, your body can get the nutrition it needs by eating more lean protein like turkey and chicken breast and by consuming more alternative protein sources such as tofu.
Diet ranks as one of the leading factor associated with high triglyceride, so the better decisions you make about what to eat, the lower your levels will become.
Consuming multiple glass of spirits, wine or beer a night can quickly drive up your triglyceride levels. While lowering your levels doesn’t necessarily mean you need to give up alcohol entirely, it does mean you should cut back or limit yourself on how much you drink . Men should enjoy no more than two drinks a night, while women should limit themselves to one drink an evening, according to guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Studies have shown stress can cause heart damage by allowing fats like triglyceride to stay in the blood longer. Stress has also been shown to increase cholesterol levels, particularly LDL, or so-called bad cholesterol. This makes managing your stress levels an important step when attempting to bring down your triglyceride.
Stress can affect your life in different ways, with some easier to handle than others. Those who work in high stress industries such as airline, metal fabrication and construction can deal with stress from both the emotional strain of the job and environmental factors like working around loud, heavy machinery. Dealing with these kind of stressors is different from say working for on overly demanding boss or trying to balance getting the kids to soccer or swim practice on time.
Regardless of the source of stress, finding ways to alleviate the pressures it causes can greatly determine how successful you are at lowering triglycerides. So whether you start exercising more, participate in yoga or just find some extra time to yourself, it’s important to find a stress lowering technique that’s right for you.
Smokers have a dramatically higher risk of heart disease and stroke when compared to nonsmoker. If you suffer from high triglyceride levels, you’re already at an elevated risk of heart disease, making a smoking habit quite possibly the last nail in the coffin. As if quitting smoking didn’t already offer a number of healthy benefits, just consider this one more to the list.
John Nickelbottom is a freelance health and science writer.