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Triglycerides are simply the chemical form of the majority of fatty acids found both in food and in your body. They are present in increasingly higher levels in the blood plasma the more that fats are consumed without being burned off, and the more carbohydrates transform into these fats when they are not used as energy. Triglycerides are then stored by the body in fat cells to be used as an energy source later on; they are released and used when calories from food are not readily available.
While triglycerides are necessary in moderate levels, they are dangerous in excess. Together with cholesterol they can thicken the blood and contribute to coronary artery disease. Just as it is possible to lower cholesterol levels with diet and lifestyle changes, lowering high triglyceride levels is possible as well. Find out how to lower triglycerides naturally with these tips.
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Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition in which excess triglycerides are present in the blood plasma. A trip to the doctor's office and a simple blood test can find out your levels. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program less than 150 mL/dL is considered normal. 200 mL/dL and above is high. If your levels are high, or even borderline-high (150 mL/dL to 199 mL/dL) then consider taking steps to naturally lower levels.
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Causes and Solutions
Figuring out how to lower levels naturally, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease, starts with a look at the causes of hypertriglyceridemia. In most cases high levels are due to one or more of the following:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
- Excess alcohol consumption
- High-carbohydrate and/or high-fat diet
Other potential contributing factors that may not be as obvious or even controllable include hypothyroidism, kidney disease, hereditary factors, or the use of drugs, including birth control pills, steroid medications, beta-blockers, and Tamoxifen.
To manage triglycerides in the body the most important step is to eat a heart-healthy diet. This means a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Fruits and vegetables are a good sources of fiber and antioxidants. When you eat bread products, make sure they are fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains, not refined white flour products. Leave out the pork, steak, and processed meats and focus on fish (especially fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acid, such as salmon, lake trout, herring, and sardines), poultry, and tofu for protein. Try and use natural nutritional oils as much as possible instead of margarine and hydrogenated oils. Use butter sparingly.
Other important steps to keeping levels down include:
- Regular physical activity — you have to burn the calories that you consume. Try at least thirty minutes of walking, biking, swimming, or playing at least five days a week.
- Stop smoking to lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and your risk of heart disease.
- Stop drinking.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States today. Knowing how to lower triglyceride levels naturally is not only a step towards good health, but it is a step that could save your life. Eat well, stay active, and keep the toxins to a minimum.
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"Triglycerides." American Heart Association <http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4778>
"What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean." American Heart Association <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp>
Web MD <http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/tc/high-triglycerides-overview>
photo by: Mike Baird (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/3539161615/sizes/m/in/photostream/>