Triglycerides: Ignored Biological Twin of Bad Cholesterol


Triglycerides are a type of blood fat. A triglyceride is composed of glycerol and three fatty acids. Excess calories are converted to triglycerides, transported to fat cells, and stored as a source of energy that the body can later use between meals or snacks. But if you have too much in your blood, this can raise the risk of arteriosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, and pancreatitis. According to a study done by ICMR in 2017, restricted to urban and rural populations in 4 states in India have reported hypercholesterolemia in 13.9%, high triglycerides in 29.5%, low HDL cholesterol in 72.3% and high LDL cholesterol in 11.8%.

Blood levels of TGs (mg/dL) are considered as normal if are less than 150; Borderline high at 150-199; High at 200-499 and Very High when found more than 500.

Handy Tips to manage your Triglyceride levels:

  • Pick your carbohydrates smartly: White bread, cereals, corn, crackers, pasta, potatoes, and white rice can increase triglycerides. The smarter choice in carbohydrates could be whole grains and portion size. You can include Brown rice, wholemeal bread, barley, and buckwheat.
  1. Control on the foods high in Sugar: 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men each day is recommended by guidelines given by the National Lipid Association and also American Heart Association (AHA).

Lets us understand how we cross our recommended intake of sugar on everyday basis:

Drinks and Foods with Added Sugars (12 oz is roughly 350ml)
Sugar-sweetened soda, 12 oz.10 – 11 teaspoons
Cranberry juice cocktail,12 oz. 10 teaspoons
Lemonade, 12 oz.10 teaspoons
Coffee Frappuccino, 12 oz9 teaspoons
Regular sports drink, 12 oz.5 teaspoons
Yogurt, regular, 6 oz.7 teaspoons
Pudding, ½ cup5 teaspoons
Ice Cream, regular½ cup4.5 teaspoons
Drinks and Foods with Natural Sugars
100% grape juice, 12 oz.13 teaspoons
100% orange juice12 oz. 9 teaspoons
Grapes, 1 cup5.5 teaspoons
Orange, 1 medium3 teaspoons

We need to understand that fruits can be part of a healthy eating pattern but choose whole fruits wisely; one at a time and not after your meals
3. Lower the intake of fructose vegetables and fruits including, zucchini, butternut squash, green beans, eggplant, berries, kiwi, and citrus fruits.
4. Limit added sugars to no more than 10% of their total daily calories
5. Use Fat-free or non fat dairy products: These include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose small amounts of vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, safflower, or soybean). Within your total daily calories, choose unsalted nuts, seeds, nut butters, or avocado at meals and snacks. Eat fewer foods with unhealthy fats like fatty meats, and high-fat dairy foods and desserts.
6. Engaging in physical activity: At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity at least 5 days per week for a total of minimum 150 minutes per week helps decreasing your triglycerides.
7. Reaching a moderate weight:  5–10% weight loss results in a 20% decrease in triglycerides as per AHA.
8. Include omega-3 fatty acids and nicotinic acid: Research indicates omega-3s may prevent and treat hypertriglyceridemia. But yes, with your doctor’s advice and prescription.
9. Avoid Alcohol or Consume Small Amounts – It can Increase TGs Alcohol can increase your TGs, especially binge drinking with a high-fat meal. Alcohol also has extra calories that may cause you to be overweight. Extra body fat can increase your TGs.
Bottom-line: Eating healthy and being physically active can help lower your TG level.
Stay Tuned for understanding another sibling LDL next week…

by Dr Harpreet Kour


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