Ways to Reduce Your Triglyceride Levels

Elevated triglyceride levels up your chances of heart disease. To bring them down, cut back on sugar, carbs, and trans fats in your diet. Add regular exercise and make other tweaks to what you eat, and you might see improvements.

By Vitalii Vodolazskyi |Adobe stock


What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a kind of fat in your bloodstream. When you eat, any extra calories get turned into triglycerides, which are then stored in your fat cells for future energy use.

Levels of triglycerides

Although triglycerides provide energy for your body, having an excess in your bloodstream can up your chances of heart disease. Here are the recommended triglyceride levels for adults, measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL):

Roughly a quarter of adults in the United States have high blood triglycerides, meaning their triglyceride levels are above 150 mg/dL (1).

Being overweight, not controlling diabetes properly, frequent alcohol consumption, and consuming a lot of calories can all lead to elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood.

How to reduce triglyceride levels

You can reduce your triglyceride levels by making different choices in your diet and lifestyle.

  • Strive for a weight that’s good for your well-being.

If you consume more calories than your body requires, it converts the extra calories into triglycerides and stores them as fat. To reduce your blood triglyceride levels, aiming for a moderate body weight by cutting down on excess calories can be quite effective. Studies indicate that shedding just 5–10% of your body weight can noticeably lower triglyceride levels (2).

  • Reduce your sugar intake

Many folks eat a lot of added sugar. The American Heart Association suggests sticking to 100–150 calories of added sugar a day, but on average, Americans are munching on about 308 daily (34).

You’ll find added sugar in candies, sodas, and fruit juice. Too much of it can turn into triglycerides, upping your risk of heart issues.

A study with 6,730 participants in 2020 discovered that those who regularly sipped sugary drinks were over 50% more likely to have high triglycerides. Kids aren’t off the hook either; gobbling up lots of added sugar is linked to higher triglyceride levels in their blood (5).

On the bright side, studies reveal that cutting carbs can lower triglycerides (67). Even a simple swap, like trading sugary drinks for water, might bring down triglyceride levels in some folks (8).

  • Try reducing your carb intake in your diet.


Just like too much sugar, extra carbs in your diet turn into triglycerides and get stored as fat.

Surprisingly, diets low in carbs are connected to lower blood triglyceride levels (9).

A study of 12 experiments showed that people on reduced carb diets generally had lower triglyceride levels after 6, 12, and 24 months. The biggest drop happened around 6 months into a reduced-calorie diet (10).

In a 2020 review comparing low fat and low carb diets, researchers found that after 6–12 months, those on the low carb diet had bigger reductions in triglyceride levels compared to those on a low-fat diet (11).

  • Increase your fiber intake

You can naturally get dietary fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, as well as nuts, seeds, cereals, and legumes. Adding more fiber to your diet can slow down how your body absorbs fat and sugar in the small intestine, which can lower your triglyceride levels (12).

In a study with 117 adults dealing with overweight or obesity, those who ate more fiber had lower triglyceride levels (13). Another study with teenagers showed that having a high-fiber cereal with a fatty breakfast reduced the increase in triglycerides after the meal by 50% (14).

  • Regular exercise is important


Engaging in aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, is particularly effective in lowering triglycerides when combined with weight loss (15).

To improve heart health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on 5 days every week (1617).

Consistent, long-term exercise routines show the most positive impact on triglyceride levels. For instance, a study on individuals with heart disease revealed that working out for 45 minutes, five times a week, significantly reduced blood triglycerides (18).

While any exercise helps decrease triglycerides, some studies suggest that shorter, more intense workouts may be more effective than longer, moderate-intensity sessions (1920).

  • Trans fats are not healthy. Avoid them


Artificial trans fats are a type of fat added to processed foods to make them last longer.

You can find trans fats in things like fried foods and baked goods made with partially hydrogenated oils, and they’re also in some animal products, although in smaller amounts. The United States has banned the addition of trans fats to food in recent years (21).

Because trans fats can cause inflammation, they’ve been linked to health issues like higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease (2223).

One review that looked at 16 different studies found that swapping out trans fats for polyunsaturated fats in your diet might help lower triglyceride levels (24).

  • Cut down on alcohol intake


Alcoholic drinks often contain a lot of sugar, carbs, and calories. If you don’t burn off these calories, they can turn into triglycerides and get stored as fat.

Moreover, alcohol can boost the production of large very low-density lipoproteins in the liver, and these carry triglycerides into your bloodstream (25, 26).

While various factors play a role, some studies suggest that even if your triglyceride levels are normal, having a moderate amount of alcohol can increase them by up to 53% (27).

However, other research indicates that light to moderate alcohol consumption may lower the risk of heart disease, while binge drinking could raise the risk (2829).

  • Eat more unsaturated fats

Research indicates that switching to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower triglyceride levels in your blood, especially when these fats replace carbohydrates in your diet (30).

Monounsaturated fats are present in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, while polyunsaturated fats can be found in vegetable oils, fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.

A review from 2019, which looked at 27 studies, found that while consuming olive oil can reduce triglyceride levels, it does so to a lesser extent compared to other types of plant oils (31). Plant oils and seeds can cause oxidative damage.


Key points

Your triglyceride levels can be significantly affected by what you eat and how you live.

To lower your blood triglycerides, opt for healthy fats instead of trans fats, cut down on carbs and added sugars, and make exercise a regular part of your routine.

Saturated fats such as coconut oil and healthy animal fats (grass-fed) are healthy for us.

You don’t have to make drastic changes all at once. Start by trying out some of the tips mentioned above and slowly add more strategies over time. This way, you can make lasting, manageable changes that benefit your health.

Disclaimer:

Dr. Berner does not diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical diseases or conditions; instead, he analyzes and corrects the structure of his patients with Foundational Correction to improve their overall quality of life. He works with their physicians, who regulate their medications. This blog post is not designed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or services to you or any other individual. The information provided in this post or through linkages to other sites is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, consultation, or the advice of your physician or another healthcare provider. Foundation Chiropractic and Dr. Brett Berner are not liable or responsible for any advice, the course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other information, services, or product you obtain through this article or others.

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