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 carbs
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.
It's also a good idea to reduce your intake of carbohydrates as a whole and eat more protein instead. Proteins have a lower "glycemic index" than carbohydrates, meaning that they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. This helps keep blood sugar levels from spiking, which is tied to your blood’s “lipid” levels, including triglycerides.
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 mainly from plants rather than meats, you are definitely going to see a significant improvement in your triglyceride levels, as well as your cholesterol levels. Great plant sources of protein are dried beans, peas, or soy. You can also make a quick protein shake with a plant-based protein powder that combines more than one source of plant protein, so you can get all the essential amino acids.
Consume plenty of fiber
Fiber is great because it helps to regulate food absorption in the body. 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.
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 especially harmful to your triglyceride levels, so reducing these fats in your diet can have a hugely positive impact. These “bad fats” are usually found in packaged foods and fast foods, so cutting back on these is extremely beneficial. Animal products also tend to be problematic, as well as vegetable oil, shortening, lard, or margarine.
Instead, go for monounsaturated or polyunsaturated 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.
Get more omega-3 fatty acids
On the “good fats” front are the trusty Omega-3 fatty acids, which can assist your body in managing your triglyceride levels. A great source of omega-3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and trout. Eating about two servings of these fish per week consistently will help you see some positive changes to your triglyceride levels. Of course, if you’re not a big fish fan, 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