|Good ways to lower those triglyceride levels
How much and what type of omega-3 fatty acid is correct
note: In this weekly column, Atlanta registered dietitian and Georgia
State University nutrition instructor Chris Rosenbloom offers advice
on how to maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle. And she's
prepared to answer your questions as well — whether you're trying
to shed pounds, lower your cholesterol, fuel yourself to excel at
your favorite sport or simply eat better and live longer.
have asked for dietary advice to lower triglycerides. A typical
question is: "My total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins
(LDL) are normal, but my triglyceride level is very high — what
foods can lower triglycerides?" Another frequent question is
whether supplementation of the B vitamin niacin is an effective
triglyceride level (called hypertriglyceridemia — "hyper"
means high and "emia" means blood) is a risk factor for
heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends
that blood triglyceride levels be less than 150 milligrams. It is
important to fast from food and alcohol for at least 12 hours before
you get your triglycerides measured.
a general term for fat; 95 percent of the fat we eat is in the form
of triglycerides. The triglyceride molecule looks like the letter E.
The backbone of the letter is glycerol, and each arm of the letter is
a fatty acid. Some of the fatty acids are saturated fatty acids
(foods like sausage, butter, shortening and the fat in whole-milk
dairy foods). Other "arms" of the triglyceride could
contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (corn oil, soybean oil and soft
tub margarines), while others contain monounsaturated fats (olive
oil, canola oil, avocados and nuts).
In addition to
the triglycerides we get from foods, the liver makes triglycerides
from the fat we eat but also from extra carbohydrates and from
alcohol. By "extra" carbohydrates I mean the carbohydrates
that exceed daily energy needs. The extra carbs get converted to
triglycerides and can be stored as body fat.
recommendation for lowering triglycerides is to decrease calorie
intake, if you're overweight. If you are at a healthy weight,
decrease carbohydrate-rich foods to less than 50 percent of your
calories and substitute heart-healthy fats for carbohydrates.
Heart-healthy fats include canola oil, olive oil and liquid
margarine. Nuts, olives and avocados also contain good fats.
strategy to manage triglycerides is to substitute fatty fish for some
beef, pork and poultry.
Fish with high
levels of omega-3 fatty acids include herring, sardines, trout,
salmon and albacore tuna. Halibut, Alaskan king crab, mackerel,
shrimp and scallops also contain omega-3 fats, but in lesser amounts.
A recent report found that consumption of fatty fish lowered
triglycerides by an average of 29 percent. The American Heart
Association recommends eating two fish meals a week to increase
intake of these "good" fats.
to lower triglycerides is to reduce or eliminate all types of
alcohol. Alcohol, even small amounts, can elevate triglycerides.
Niacin can lower
triglycerides, but only when used in very large amounts. The
recommended dietary allowance for niacin is 14 milligrams a day for
women, 16 milligrams for men, with an upper limit of 35 milligrams.
To lower triglycerides, levels of 2,000 to 6,000 milligrams (2 to 6
grams) of niacin are needed. At this level, niacin is no longer a
vitamin but a drug. Dietary supplements are not tightly regulated by
the Food and Drug Administration, so if your doctor recommends
niacin, you should use the prescription version of niacin. The
prescription form is regulated by the FDA and is formulated to reduce
side effects and deliver the vitamin in a time-released way to
minimize skin flushing.
Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., is a member of the nutrition faculty in the
College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University.
She'll answer nutrition questions of general interest at
Or send your questions to her c/o The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Eighth Floor, 72 Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30303.
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