Triglycerides are an important measure of heart health. Here’s why triglycerides matter — and what to do if your triglycerides are too high.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, there’s something else you might need to monitor: your triglycerides. Having a high level of triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood, can increase your risk of heart disease. However, the same lifestyle choices that promote overall health can help lower your triglycerides, too. What are triglycerides? Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
What’s considered normal?
A simple blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range. -Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) -Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L) -High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L) -Very high — 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
Your doctor will usually check for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test (sometimes called a lipid panel or lipid profile). You’ll have to fast for nine to 12 hours before blood can be drawn for an accurate triglyceride measurement.
It’s not hard to whip up recipes that fit with the low saturated fat, low trans fat, low-cholesterol eating plan recommended by scientists to help you manage your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Discover how easy it is to avoid excess saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol while enjoying mouth-watering dishes.
The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than six ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry (skinless), fish or seafood a day for people who need 2,000 calories. Most meats have about the same amount of cholesterol, roughly 70 milligrams in each three-ounce cooked serving (about the size of a deck of cards). But the amount of saturated fat in meats can vary widely, depending on the cut and how it’s prepared. Here are some ways to reduce the saturated fat in meat:
There are some cooking tips listed below will help you prepare tasty, heart-healthy meals. -Select lean cuts of meat with minimal visible fat. Lean beef cuts include the round, chuck, sirloin or loin. Lean pork cuts include the tenderloin or loin chop, while lean lamb cuts come from the leg, arm and loin.
–Buy “choice” or “select” grades rather than “prime.” Select lean or extra lean ground beef. -Trim all visible fat from meat before cooking. -Broil rather than pan-fry meats such as hamburger, lamb chops, pork chops and steak.
-Use a rack to drain off fat when broiling, roasting or baking. Instead of basting with drippings, keep meat moist with wine, fruit juices or an acceptable oil-based marinade. -Cook a day ahead of time. Stews, boiled meat, soup stock or other dishes in which fat cooks into the liquid can be refrigerated. Then the hardened fat can be removed from the top. -When a recipe calls for browning the meat first, try browning it under the broiler instead of in a pan. -Eat chicken and turkey rather than duck and goose, which are higher in fat. Choose white meat most often when eating poultry. -Remove the skin from chicken or turkey, before cooking. If your poultry dries out too much, first try basting with wine, fruit juices or an acceptable oil-based marinade and if that does not help, leave the skin on for cooking but remove before eating. -Limit processed meats to none or no more than two servings per week. Examples of processed meats include sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs. Many processed meats — even those with “reduced fat” labels — are high in calories and saturated fat. They are often high in sodium as well. Read labels carefully and choose such meats only now and then. -Organ meats such as liver, sweetbreads, kidney and brain are very high in cholesterol. If you’re on a cholesterol-lowering diet, eat them only occasionally.
Is there a connection between how a food looks and what it does for your body? I keep thinking about all of those “male enhancement” remedies made from phallic-looking foods (and in some cases, actual animal phalluses). Science has pretty much come down and said those things just don’t work. But in the case of the old adage of walnuts being brain food, well, whoever came up with that just may have been onto something.
It’s really kind of zany how much a walnut half looks like a brain (albeit a nutty, crunchy, delicious brain!). The human brain is made up of about 60% of what is called “structural fat” and needs high-quality fats like omega-3s to function properly by keeping the brain fluid and flexible. Walnuts are loaded with omega-3s, which make them the ultimate “brain food.”
Some studies have linked low consumption of omega-3s to depression and decreased cognitive function. So making walnuts part of your diet (in moderation, of course) could be a good way boost your spirits as well as your IQ.
We all need sleep to stay sane. Did you know that walnuts also seem to triple melatonin levels in the body? Melatonin is one of the body’s sleep regulating hormones, so if you’re tired of counting sheep at night, maybe a pre-bedtime snack of walnuts would help you get some shuteye.
Walnuts also contain manganese, copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium—all nutrients which are important to good health, and walnuts, like most nuts, can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Most of the walnuts we consume in our diets are in sweets or baked goods.
Knowing your stroke risk factors, following your doctor’s recommendations and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best steps you can take to prevent a stroke. If you’ve had a stroke or a TIA, these measures may help you avoid having another stroke. Many stroke prevention strategies are the same as strategies to prevent heart disease. In general, healthy lifestyle recommendations include: -Controlling high blood pressure (hypertension). One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stroke risk is to keep your blood pressure under control. If you’ve had a stroke, lowering your blood pressure can help prevent a subsequent transient ischemic attack or stroke. Exercising, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting the amount of sodium and alcohol you eat and drink are all ways to keep high blood pressure in check. -Lowering the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet. Eating less cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats, may reduce the plaque in your arteries. -Quitting tobacco use. Smoking raises the risk of stroke for both the smoker and nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Quitting tobacco use reduces your risk of stroke. -Controlling diabetes. You can manage diabetes with diet, exercise, weight control and medication. -Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight contributes to other stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. -Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A diet containing five or more daily servings of fruits or vegetables may reduce your risk of stroke. -Exercising regularly. Aerobic exercise reduces your risk of stroke in many ways. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress. Gradually work up to 30 minutes of activity — such as walking, jogging, swimming or bicycling — on most, if not all, days of the week. -Drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. Alcohol can be both a risk factor and a preventive measure for stroke. -Treat obstructive sleep apnea, if present. Your doctor may recommend an overnight oxygen assessment to screen for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Although fatty liver can be caused by regularly drinking too many alcoholic beverages, the high prevalence of fatty liver in modern society is unrelated to alcohol consumption, and it can progress to a metabolic disorder called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. Fatty liver is an excessive accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in your liver. The amount of cholesterol in your diet has very little bearing on the development of fatty liver, but a fatty liver can raise the triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in your blood. Estimates indicate that 20 to 30 percent of the adult population in the United States may have a fatty liver or NAFLD. The disorder can begin to develop in early childhood. If you have Type 2 diabetes, there is a 50 percent chance that you have too much fat in your liver, and if you are overweight with excess fat around your waist, your likelihood of having fatty liver is 75 percent. The best way to detect fatty liver is through a liver biopsy. Fatty liver is often associated with excess belly fat, also called abdominal fat. Triglycerides in your abdominal fatty tissues can be recycled to your liver and contribute to fat content. People with fatty liver usually have high blood triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated levels of small, dense LDLs and LDL cholesterol. Too much liver fat and this type of blood lipid profile is strongly associated with Type 2 diabetes, and it is a feature of insulin resistance.
Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up in plaques on your artery walls, preventing further blockage in your blood vessels and heart attacks.
You may think that once your cholesterol goes down, you can stop taking medication. But, if your cholesterol levels have decreased after you take a statin, you’ll likely need to stay on it indefinitely. If you stop taking it, your cholesterol levels will probably go back up.
The exception may be if you make significant changes to your diet or lose a lot of weight. Substantial lifestyle changes may help you lower your cholesterol without continuing to take the medication, but don’t make any changes to your lifestyle or medications without talking to your doctor first. The side effects of statins
Although statins are well tolerated by most people, they do have side effects, some of which may go away as your body adjusts to the medication.
Common, less serious side effects: -Muscle and joint aches (most common) -Nausea
If you’re looking for an all-natural way to lower your cholesterol — in addition to watching what you eat and exercising — there are plenty of dietary supplements on the market that claim to do the trick. Each year seems to bring a new alternative remedy — garlic, ginseng, or artichoke extract, for example — that users tout as the next best thing to get cholesterol under control. What new supplement are we referring to? Red yeast rice. Red yeast rice is a fungus that grows on rice and contains small amounts of a naturally occurring form of lovastatin, a type of statin that is also found in prescription medications.
Compared to that of most dietary supplements, the evidence of red yeast rice’s efficacy is quite strong — which isn’t entirely surprising, given that red yeast rice is, in effect, a low-dose statin. In studies over the years (including in several high-quality trials), various red yeast rice preparations have been shown to lower LDL by around 20 to 30 percent, comparable to a prescription statin.
More recent studies have backed up these results. In the most recent trial, a study of patients who had stopped taking statins due to muscle pain, red yeast rice capsules lowered total cholesterol and LDL by 15 percent and 21 percent, respectively (compared to 5 percent and 9 percent for placebo).
Red yeast rice is a potentially effective way to lower cholesterol, but its potency makes some experts wary — and suspicious. The amount of lovastatin in red yeast rice pills varies widely across brands — so much so that some brands appear to be spiked with lovastatin, according to an analysis performed by a consumer watchdog group. Inadvertently ingesting too much of a statin can cause side effects (such as muscle pain), and due to the safety concerns, experts discourage using off-the-shelf red yeast rice. Like always, talk to your doctor before taking this supplement.
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol. -Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. -Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver. -Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take awhile for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food. -Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. -Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways. -Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
If you have high total cholesterol, seeking natural and dietary remedies for reducing your level of “bad” cholesterol and raising your level of “good” cholesterol can help improve your long-term heart health. Certain fruit juices are recommended for improving your cholesterol levels. Although the evidence is not certain, these juices may provide benefits with relatively few risks.
Cholesterol is a substance that’s needed by the body and is produced within the body and consumed in foods. There are two types of cholesterol in the body: HDL or “good” cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It’s the level of each and the balance of the two that’s important for heart health, according to the American Heart Association. It’s important for your doctor to monitor these levels for you.
Several juices are thought to have positive effects on cholesterol levels. In particular, pomegranate, grape and cranberry juice may help raise “good” cholesterol levels or lower “bad” cholesterol levels. These fruits contain antioxidants, such as polyphenols in the case of pomegranates, that are thought to improve cholesterol levels. Fortified Juices – Other carefully chosen juices may help lower your “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol levels. Look for juices and foods that have been fortified with plant sterols or stanals, which block cholesterol absorption. Orange juice, in particular, can be found with these substances added and has been shown to reduce LDLs by more than 10 percent. At least two 8-oz. servings of fortified orange juice per day is required to achieve this result.
In today’s world, millions of people are walking around with high cholesterol levels. For many people, it’s very hard to know when they have cholesterol problems since there are not many high cholesterol symptoms. There have been times in which some people have died from a heart attack due to the lack of high cholesterol symptoms. Being able to detect high cholesterol is usually very hard for most people, which is the reason doctors advice their patients to get their cholesterol levels checked. As mentioned by The American Heart Association, it is recommended for every person 20 years and up to get a cholesterol test in order to stay on top of cholesterol control. Having the cholesterol test results at hand is a very good cholesterol control measure. Additionally, having those test results can be vital when one is in an emergency and no high cholesterol symptoms are present.
For some people, being able to tell when they have high cholesterol is somewhat of an easy task since they tend to get chest pain quite often. The few that get chest pain, right away know it’s one of the most common high cholesterol symptoms, and at some point decide to pay their doctor a visit. For other people it’s hard knowing when they have high cholesterol since none of the symptoms are present. For the group that doesn’t get any high cholesterol symptoms, it’s always a good idea to keep a healthy diet in order to stay on top of cholesterol control. In addition, another good way to stay on top of cholesterol control is to take multivitamins and be physically active. High cholesterol is responsible for causing a person’s arteries to fill up with fat deposits, which in turn cause blood flow to diminish. Considering this, being physically active becomes a very good way to stay on top of cholesterol control. The best way for staying physically active is to always run whenever time is available, which in turn help by making the heart stronger and less vulnerable to heart attacks.