Often when we discuss cholesterol, the conversation is centered around HDL and LDL cholesterol (good vs. bad). But by focusing on only these two types of cholesterol, we are missing pieces of our health puzzle.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood that can either be used as energy or stored as fat in the body as needed.
Problems begin to arise when triglyceride levels are high and HDL cholesterol levels are low as this can contribute to heart disease. The effects are similar to having high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.
Some people are genetically predisposed to higher triglyceride levels, but for the majority, lifestyle factors play a big role.
Lifestyle habits that can help improve triglyceride levels include maintaining a healthy weight, more specifically reducing the amount of fat in the abdominal region. Fat around the abdomen is often a sign of higher triglyceride levels as the body is storing the higher levels around the abdomen. The American Heart Association recommends losing five to 10 percent of excess body fat to reduce triglyceride levels.
Dietary changes are also helpful in reducing triglyceride levels. This means reducing your intake of dietary fats, carbohydrates, and alcohol. There is a strong link between higher body weight and excess consumption of carbohydrates, especially with processed carbs.
Saturated and trans fats are the biggest culprits to higher LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Trans fats are often found in processed and refined products and saturated fat is high in red meats and animal byproducts. Reduce your intake of processed meat such as bacon and deli meats and remove as much fat as possible from your meat.
Saturated fats are also largely found in high-fat dairy products, therefore, using lower fat options is recommended.
It’s important that you also choose healthier fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These types of fats can be found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.
Increasing your physical activity is also beneficial in maintaining weight and reducing fat around the abdomen along with improving triglyceride levels.
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