f you visited your doctor for your cholesterol and triglycerides, he or she probably recommendeds your LDL “bad” cholesterol be less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and your triglycerides be below 160 mg/dL. If your cholesterol was normal, but your triglycerides were high, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.

High triglyceride levels alone can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, the National Cholesterol Education Program found high triglycerides are linked to adult onset type 2 diabetes and increase your chance for inflammation of the pancreas. A woman’s risk begins if her triglycerides are 190 mg/dL, but for a man to experience the same risk, his triglycerides would need to be more than double that, at 400 mg/dL. 

The risk factors for high triglycerides include

  • Age
  • Alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Drugs: Steroids, beta-blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Family History
  • Other Diseases: Cushing’s disease, hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, liver disease, multiple myeloma, nephrosis, renal failure, and systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) levels
  • Weight related to your body mass index

Things you can do to help lower triglycerides are

  • Avoid saturated and trans fats and eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats moderately. If you are unsure what these are read The Skinny on Fats.
  • Consume omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flax, canola, and walnuts
  • Eat baked, broiled, or roasted foods not fried
  • Exercise and lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Reduce simple carbohydrates in your diet, such as sugary foods and soft drinks (read Carbohydrates: Your Energy Source for more information).

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