How do I lower high triglycerides?

9 answers | Last updated: Nov 15, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Are high triglycerides dangerous, and how can you lower them?

Expert Answers

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

Yes, high triglyceride levels are dangerous, and you do need to lower them. But doctors often don't do a good job of explaining why or how. Triglycerides (TG) are fats, or lipids. They're sometimes called the "forgotten fat," because everyone talks about cholesterol but neglects the importance of triglycerides. While it's important to control your LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol), increased TG levels are also a risk factor for developing heart disease. The problem is that not all triglycerides are stored as fats; some remain in the blood, where they thicken it, increasing the likelihood of clotting and artery clogging.

You want your triglyceride reading to be less than 150 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter); the optimum is less than 100 mg/dl. For TG levels over 200, the risk of developing heart disease doubles. High TG levels are usually found in people who are overweight, have diabetes, or have low HDL levels.

To lower your TG levels, you'll need to make diet and lifestyle changes, but it's not as simple as cutting out fat. Triglycerides actually come from foods fried in oil (such as fast food) and from simple carbohydrates (such as candy, drinks sweetened with glucose and sucrose, and cookies, cakes, and baked goods). When the calories from carbohydrates aren't immediately used by tissues in the body, they're converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for future use.

The best way to lower triglycerides is to cut carbohydrates rather than fat. We also tell people to boost their exercise and activity level; studies have shown that moderate activity can significantly cut TG levels. In one study, people who followed a program of moderate walking lowered their TG levels by 25 percent. Research has also shown that boosting your intake of omega-3 fatty acids lowers TG levels.

Here are more specific steps to follow:

  • Get 30 minutes of exercise a day.

  • Lose weight.

  • Avoid sugar.

  • Avoid carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and rice.

  • Eat more fiber and whole grains.

  • Avoid alcohol, which turns to sugar in the bloodstream.

  • Don't eat foods with partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats.

  • Eat fish and take fish oil supplements.

  • Stop smoking.

Community Answers

Mills answered...

In my 40's I was diagnosed with Triglycerides so high that the doctors would almost always have it tested twice. I was on pills for a decade and on these meds my Tri's went way way down. Then I changed radically my exercise program (increased it), started eating more veg and fruits AND INCREASED MY FIBER INTAKE TO AROUND 40 TO 50 GRAMS A DAY. I did this by making sure that I got down ONE CUP OF WHEAT BRAN A DAY. I mixed the bran (which has the taste and consistence of sawdust) with a cup of skim milk, an apple and a banana. WOW!! Two to three bowel movements a day (ie. totally cleaned out inside) Tri's no longer need meds to treat it and I felt great. I have been doing this daily for the last ten years. Does anyone know if that is TOO MUCH BRAN? Dennis

Johnm. answered...

From what everyone has said so far is right on the money my Try's were over 400 have had 9 heart attacks now, my physican put me on a med called Fenofibric Acid 135mg, guess it is working as my try's have come down to 150, i have a hard time with excercising, even walking since i have emphysema (ms), As all have said watch your diet, drinks lots of water and get excercise. Best wishes to you.

Samuel50 answered...

Avoid sugary and refined carbohydrates, including sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and anything made with white (refined or enriched) flour, including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, pastries, regular pasta and white rice. You'll also want to limit dried fruit and fruit juice since they're dense in simple sugar. All of these poor"“quality carbs can spike triglyceride levels.

A fellow caregiver answered...

So what do I eat? the answer is whole grains, fresh fruits and vegtables, water, skim milk, no carbonated drinks, no juices, no rice, no pasta, fish, chicken, deer and elk are low in fat, nuts just a few, olive oil, canola oil, eggs, lentil beans, beans are a good source of iron, to absorb iron non-hem you need vitimen B complex, to build hemaglobin you need vitimin C, fiber enriched foods.These foods will reduce triglycerides. Walk, walk, walk.

Beastbody answered...

I had a Triglyceride level of 704, stopped eating Ice Cream for one week and lowered it to 198.

Princsleah42 answered...

I don't want to add an answer, but have a question. My doctor just called and said my triglycerides are 7, 160! That is up from 4,838 in January. Does ANYONE out there have triglycerides this high like myself and if so, and ideas on how to get them down quickly? I had a few suggestions of taking large amounts of lecithin granules daily and cutting all animal fat from diet. Any other ideas that have been proved to work? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I was told in 2011 my trygisorits were 2000, I was 37 years old. Doctor said it was heredity I continued to take crestor and fenofibrate, I was able to mantain normal levels until recently they went from 500 to 700 to 1400, all while maintaining a good diet and trying different medication combination. I was also on serquel and noticed it can cause high triglycerides. I quit taking serquel and am waiting to see what my next blood test says. Anyone have experience with other types of medications causing levels to increase? Thank you.

Miriam shoshana answered...

I have no answers to give either. But shockingly found out today that my Triglycerides are over 1000. I do not drink sodas, eat very little fried food, do not frequent fast-food places and do not have a sweet tooth, with the exception of a little ice cream here and there. Only thing I noticed was ever increasing fat in my belly and hips, whereas throughout my life I have always been a "stringbean". I am terrified right now of having a stroke or heart attack. The Doctor put me on medication and I am searching for every triglycerides-lowering diet plan I can find on line. Sometimes, we just do not know what's causing certain conditions, but have to do everything possible to rectify it. Aside from lowering carbs, sugars, fried food, oils, alcohol and cigarettes, and increasing exercise, fresh fruit, fresh veges and fish intake what else can be recommended in combination with medication.