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Nutrients that May Lower Triglycerides
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. They provide the body with energy, however when triglyceride levels become too high, the body begins to store them as fat. This increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. These blood fats are also linked to diabetes and fatty liver. The good news is, most people can significantly lower triglycerides through lifestyle changes, especially diet and some key nutrients.
To Optimize Triglycerides The American Heart Association recommends the following nutritional strategies for optimal triglyceride levels:
- Be Selective About Carbs: Simple sugars (refined grains, added sugar & alcohol) will increase triglycerides. Focus on fiber-rich carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fresh whole fruit. Keep foods with added sugar, especially fructose, to a minimum and minimize alcohol intake. Most sugar in the diet is from baked goods, sweet drinks, candy & ice cream.
- Limit Saturated Fats & Avoid Trans-Fats: Saturated and trans-fats will raise triglycerides. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, poultry and whole milk dairy products. Palm and coconut oils are also saturated fats. Baked goods, fried, processed and fast foods can be high in these fats.
Trans-fats occur in small amounts naturally, although most are manufactured and added. Even though they are banned, they may still be found in small amounts. Check the nutrition facts labels. Ingredients should not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. Processed, snack & baked goods and coffee creamers often contain these fats.
- Choose Healthy Fats: Replace saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, fish, olive and canola oil. Omega-3 fats are in this group, with fish being an excellent source.
Three Key Nutrients
- Omega-3 Fats – a healthy fat, found mainly in fatty fish; salmon, halibut, herring, sardines and mackerel, however flax seed meal is also a good source. To lower triglycerides try to have at least
3 1/2 oz. of fish twice a week.
- Dietary Fiber – The current fiber recommendation is 25-30 grams daily. The average intake is only 10-12 grams each day. Fiber-rich carbs can provide the fiber that is required daily.
- Niacin – This is a B vitamin linked to heart health. Niacin-rich foods include poultry, fish, brown rice, avocado, mushrooms and whole grains. Focus on foods instead of supplements. If you are considering a supplement discuss with your health care professional.
Other Factors to Consider: If you are not at a healthy weight, a 5-10% weight loss can lower your triglycerides by 20%! Be mindful of portion sizes and keep calories in balance to maintain a healthy weight. Choose nutrient-rich foods and be active. Aim for 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. Be mindful of your body’s limits and check with your physician before starting an exercise program.
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