How to lower your triglyceride levels
- Mel’s weekly food pick:
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Peach, Avocado & Cucumber Salad (w/lavender and fennel pollen goat cheese)
Take a look at your most recent cholesterol test/lipid panel and you’ll probably notice triglycerides listed among the results. So what exactly are triglycerides and how can you lower your levels in a more natural way if they are out of range?
Triglycerides: What are they? What raises them?
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) in your blood, which if too high, can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Their function in the body differs from that of cholesterol. Triglycerides store the unused calories of a meal in your fat cells which can later be released for energy between meals, and cholesterol works to build cells and produce certain hormones.
According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, here’s what the following triglyceride values mean:
Less than 150 mg/dL = Normal
150-199 mg/dL = Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL = High
500+ mg/dL = Very high
High triglycerides may be caused by any one of the following:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Inactive lifestyle
- Kidney disease
- Diet high in sugar, refined and processed food, including: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and refined oils: canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower…check your food labels because processed foods are LOADED with these inflammatory fats!
- Certain medications
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Overeating on a regular basis
Lifestyle changes to lower triglycerides
Here are seven strategies that you can implement to lower your triglycerides in a more natural way. To make it a habit, choose one or two (or all seven if you’re really motivated!) and practice them consistently over the next several weeks as suggested below. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel, which is always a good indication that things are moving in the right direction beneath the surface.
- Move more, sit less
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day (walking, jogging, basketball, swimming, biking, etc.) and don’t sit for more than 50 minutes at one time.
- If you drink alcohol, limit it to one serving per day
A serving is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
- Cut way back on sweets and refined/processed foods
These include cereals, crackers, breads, pastas, snack foods, sweets, sugary beverages, and the following ingredients on food labels: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, and highly refined oils, labeled as: canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean or sunflower oil.
- Load up on Earthfoods
Plant-based foods are your body’s BFF. Choose from an array of: non-starchy vegetables (bonus points for leafy greens), fruits (bonus points for berries), beans, lentils, herbs, spices, garlic, avocados, and nuts and seeds (i.e. flax, hemp, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.). Check out this week’s recipe pick: Peach, Avocado & Cucumber Salad (w/lavender and fennel pollen goat cheese). A yummy, summery salad loaded with tons of triglyceride-lowering Earthfoods— tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peaches, avocados, cilantro, and sunflower seeds!
- Fit in healthy fat
The best fats include: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and MCT oil. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride—a special type of saturated fatty acid derived from coconut oil that can help reduce elevated triglycerides.
- Eat more fatty fish
Low contaminant, oily, omega-3-rich fish are super effective for maintaining healthy triglyceride levels. These fish include: anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines. Aim for 2-3 servings per week!
- Bridge the gap (but only when you’ve done the above first)
Those with triglyceride levels over 500 mg/dL can benefit from supplementing with high dose pure fish oil and also niacin (vitamin B3). Both supplements can lower triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Always check with your doctor before beginning any supplement, as it can negatively interact with certain medications you may be taking.
Even if you choose only one or two from the list above, remember to be consistent! Each can be extremely powerful when repeated on a daily basis.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Cilantro is considered one of the most potent detoxifying herbs around. It has the power to bind heavy metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, lead, and mercury) that can bury themselves in our precious tissues, causing cardiovascular, hormonal, and neurological damage. Cilantro also facilitates in eliminating these harmful metals from the body.
Research also indicates that cilantro can lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides levels when consumed on a regular basis. (1)
We tend to limit cilantro to guacamole and salsa recipes, but you can easily add it to any salad or smoothie—just give it a good rinse before adding. Check out this week’s recipe pick for a delicious summer salad using cilantro.
I’ve been known to munch on a few sprigs of cilantro just because I know how good it is for my body. I know…total nutrition geek!
Another interesting note about cilantro: After it flowers, it produces seeds—called coriander seeds—which are often used in Latin-American and Mexican cuisines due to its spicy, citrus flavor.