Triglyceride levels and the impact of alcohol

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Cholesterol | Thursday, October 06, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Triglyceride levels and the impact of alcoholTriglyceride levels can be affected by alcohol intake in many different ways. For starters, alcohol consumption means more calories to metabolize. No digestion is required, so it goes directly to the liver. Instead of metabolizing fatty acids, the liver then starts processing the alcohol. As a result, the triglyceride levels in the liver – and subsequently in the blood – rise.

Secondly, alcohol alters the basic structures of liver cells and, as a result, they are unable to process fats the way they should. This, again, raises triglyceride levels and contributes to a fatty liver.

Lastly, alcohol drinkers typically snack on unhealthy food loaded with triglycerides. Potato chips, nachos, and pizza are all good examples of such snacks. Those extra calories translate to higher triglyceride levels, too.

Some may argue about the benefits of red wine and suggest that it is safe to consume. Indeed, numerous studies show health benefits of a moderate red wine consumption. However, red wine still contributes those excess calories that need to be metabolized and that can contribute to higher levels of triglycerides. Red wine is processed in the liver the same way as other alcoholic beverages, so the risk of developing a fatty liver associated with red wine consumption still exists.

There is a general consensus that one glass of red wine with a meal coupled with a low calorie diet can be beneficial and support a healthy heart.

As you can see, alcohol can affect triglyceride levels in a number of ways, so it’s important that you moderate your alcohol intake to maintain healthy triglyceride numbers and reduce your risk of complications.

Tips to lower triglyceride levels

Here are the necessary lifestyle changes you need to make in order to lower your triglyceride levels and live a healthy life. Not only will these adjustments help support healthy heart numbers, but they are also beneficial for your overall good health, too.

  • Lose weight
  • Cut out sugar – the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends only five percent of your daily calories come from added sugar.
  • Increase your fiber intake
  • Limit fructose – fructose is a type of sugar that can contribute to high triglyceride levels
  • Ear a moderately low-fat diet – a moderately low-fat diet has been shown to be more effective for lowering triglyceride levels, compared to a strict low-fat diet. The AHA recommends that 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories come from fat.
  • Be mindful of the fat you eat – there are good fats and bad fats. Avoid saturated and trans fats and consume more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat typically found in olive oil, for example.
  • Increase your fish intake – go for salmon and sardines
  • Exercise
  • Limit alcohol
  • Take triglyceride-lowering drugs if necessary as recommended by your doctor
  • Quit smoking
  • Control diabetes

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