Triglycerides are a type of lipid (fat) present in the bloodstream, an important indicator of heart health.
High levels of triglycerides can mean, therefore, an increased risk of heart disease and the development of other diseases associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.
The normal level of triglycerides
Monitoring the triglycerides levels in blood is as important as that of cholesterol or blood pressure. Triglycerides shall designate a particular type of fat that is found in blood composition, being actually calories from the food, which the body did not used to turn them into energy.
Triglycerides are stored in the fat cells of the body where hormones are taken when the body loses power for an energy surplus. People who usually ingest more calories than you burn, usually calories from carbohydrates and fats, are those in which it is detected the high level of triglycerides.
A simple blood test can show if triglycerides are included or not in the normal range. Official medical values in this regard are the following:
Normal level less than 150 mg/dl (less than 1.7 milliliter);
Unsafe 150-199 mg/dl (between 1.8 and 2.2 milliliter);
High level 200-499 mg/dl (between 2.3 and 5.6 milliliter);
Very high mg/dl 500 (over 5.7 milliliter);
American Association of Heart Health says that a triglyceride level of 100 mg/dl or less is optimal and beneficial to improve heart health.
The difference between triglycerides and cholesterol
Triglycerides and cholesterol are two separate types of fats circulating in the bloodstream. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide energy to the body, while cholesterol is used in the construction of cells and some hormones.
Both types of fats cannot dissolve in blood; they travel in the body by proteins that carry lipids (lipoproteins).
Triglycerides and the risk of heart attack and stroke
Although it is not clear why this occurs, the high level of triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the artery walls, leading to a considerably increased risk of developing stroke, cardiac infarction and heart disease.
Studies also show that too many triglycerides in the blood, multiplies 4 times the risk of installing a heart attack or a stroke.
Triglycerides and type 2 diabetes
The same high level of triglycerides may be a sign of installation of insulin resistance, which means that the body no longer uses insulin (the hormone that controls the metabolism of blood sugar) properly.
When it no longer fulfills the functions of insulin, glucose does not reach the cells, the blood sugar level increases and type 2 diabetes is installed. Untreated, this condition becomes a major threat to health. To control it, it is necessary to carefully monitor the diet and blood sugar levels, subject to a regular program of exercise, excess weight loss, compliance with medication prescribed by specialist etc.
A regular checkup helps to detect high levels of triglycerides, and the possible installation of type 2 diabetes.
Triglycerides and pancreatic and liver disorders
When the triglyceride level is very high (over 500 mg/dl), the risk of suffering dangerous inflammation of the pancreas and the liver increases. Pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas) can lead to permanent tissue damage. Symptoms include abdominal pain, often severe.
When are installed liver diseases, symptoms may be absent, thus aggravating the problem is tacitly to develop cirrhosis, liver point that can no longer perform the functions.
Large number of triglycerides may be a sign of too little thyroid hormone levels (announcing hypothyroidism), kidney disease or rare genetic disease that affects how the body turn fat into energy.
High levels of triglycerides are often a side effect of some medications, such as beta blockers, oral contraceptives, diuretics, steroids or drugs to treat breast cancer.
Methods to reduce high levels of triglycerides
Given that too many triglycerides actually put their health at risk, methods to reduce the level of this type of fat are essential for a long, quality life.
Losing extra weight. People who are overweight should lose between 2.5 and 5 kg, to adjust the level of triglycerides in the blood.
Reducing the number of calories in the diet. Excess calories are converted into triglycerides and deposited in fat tissues. So fewer calories in the diet means a reduced number of triglycerides in the blood.
Avoid sweet foods and refined. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour foods significantly increase the number of triglycerides.
Limiting cholesterol consumption. Doctors recommend following a diet with consumed maxim than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day or more than 200 milligrams for people suffering from heart disease. Concentrated sources of cholesterol are foods with saturated fats, such as dairy or egg yolk.
Supplementation of healthy fat intake. Replacing saturated meat fats with monounsaturated plant sources such as olives, fruit oil and canola oil. Essential fatty acids omega-3, found in oily fish, for instance, is also beneficial in regulating triglyceride levels.
Limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol is hypo-caloric and high in sugar, so it has a major effect on increasing the number of triglycerides.
Exercise regularly. Aim to perform a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, in any form, to reduce bad LDL cholesterol in the body and the number of triglycerides.