How To Lower Triglycerides Naturally
Triglycerides 1 are a type of fat or lipid that is found in your blood. When you eat food, any extra calories that are not used up right away are converted into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. When you are in between meals, your body releases a hormone that signals for the triglycerides to be released back into the bloodstream to help maintain energy levels.
While triglycerides serve a perfectly normal function in the body, elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood can be a cause for concern, since they are associated with increased heart health risks. The most direct way to bring those triglyceride levels back down is to make some dietary changes.
Here are some simple dietary changes that can help lower triglycerides:
Both refined and added sugars can spike triglycerides2. The fastest way to quickly lower your triglycerides would be to cut down or completely cut out sugar intake. The reason is quite simple: sugars are often unnecessary calories that get left over after a meal, only to become triglycerides in your body. Try to keep added sugars to no more than 5-10% of your calorie intake. That means for women, sugars should be restricted to 100 to 200 calories per day, while men should consume no more than 150 to 250 calories in sugar per day. The easiest way to achieve this sugar restriction is to avoid foods high in simple sugars, such as candy, desserts, soda, and juice.
Watch out for refined carbohydrates
White rice, pasta, and baked goods are all delicious and hard to resist, but they are made with refined white flour, which can cause elevated triglycerides3. Reducing these carbohydrates can have a quick impact on your triglyceride levels. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy breads or pastas ever again, it just means that rather than eating the ones made with refined white flour, choose those made from whole grains instead. In addition, reducing your intake of carbohydrates as a whole and eating more protein is a much better choice, as proteins have a lower "glycemic index" than carbohydrates. This means that they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream – something that is helpful in lowering your blood sugars, which is tied to your blood’s “lipid” levels, including triglycerides. In order to help stabilize blood sugar, and in turn lower triglycerides, choosing healthy fats in your diet is a good idea as well.
Cut out the alcohol
This one is a strong recommendation from many sources, as alcohol is well-known to increase triglycerides – particularly in those individuals who are more susceptible to it. If you are already experiencing elevated triglyceride levels, there is no way around it: the booze has got to go. Once your levels have returned to normal, then alcohol can gradually be re-introduced. However, it should be one of those items that is rarely consumed, since it can easily make triglyceride levels skyrocket again. Men shouldn’t be consuming more than two drinks per day, while woman shouldn’t be doing more than one drink per day. A drink is measured out as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Eat more plant-based foods
If you are getting your protein sources mainly from plants rather than red meat, then you are definitely going to see a significant improvement in your triglyceride levels, as well as your cholesterol. Great plant sources that are rich in protein are dried beans, peas, or soy. In addition, chicken is a great alternative to red meat, since it’s healthier for your triglyceride levels.
Consume plenty of fiber
Fiber is great because it helps to regulate food absorption in the body, therefore, foods that are high in fiber can have a significant impact on lowering triglycerides, as well as cholesterol. When fiber comes in contact with water in your intestines, it forms a gel-like consistency to which fats attach, including triglycerides. This means that there are less fats absorbed into your body and bloodstream. Plus, there is the added advantage that fiber helps your digestive tract stay healthy in other ways as well. In order to fit more fiber into your diet, you should be eating whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Another fiber perk is that it makes you feel full, helping to prevent overeating. When you increase your fiber intake, you should also be increasing your water consumption, in order to avoid intestinal upset.
Track your fat intake
Both saturated fats and trans fats can be particularly harmful to your triglycerides, therefore cutting back as much as possible on these fats can have a hugely positive impact. These “bad fats” are usually found in packaged foods as well as fast foods, so cutting back on these is extremely beneficial. Also, animal products, as well as anything made with vegetable oil, poses a problem, as well as certain items such as shortening, lard, or margarine. Instead, go for mono or poly-unsaturated fats. Your body naturally requires some fat intake, but the key is to go for the healthier sources of fat that won’t interfere with your triglycerides as much. These sources would include olive oil, canola oil, rice bran, walnut oil, or flaxseed oil.
Limit fructose consumption
Fructose is the sugar naturally found in most fruits, but it can also be found in honey and certain forms of table sugar. In order to help your triglycerides go down quicker, try limiting yourself to no more than 3 servings of fruit per day. Also keep an eye out for the fruits that have lower levels of fructose, such as apricots, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, avocados, and tomatoes. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever have fruits with a higher fructose content – such as mangoes, bananas, plantains, grapes, pears, apples, watermelon, pineapples, and blackberries – it just means keep the servings within reason.
Consume more omega-3 fatty acids
On the front of “good fats” are the trusty Omega-3 fatty acids, which can assist your body in developing lower triglyceride levels. A great source of omega-3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and trout. Eating about two servings of any of these fish per week in a consistent manner will help you see some positive changes to your triglycerides. Of course, if you’re like me and you hate most fatty fish, you may want to try an Omega-3 Supplement.
1. Triglycerides: Why do they matter?, Sept. 13, 2018
2. The Cleveland Clinic | Triglycerides & Heart Health, 01/16/2019
3. Why Refined Carbs Are Bad For You, June 4, 2017