Triglycerides are a common form of fat in food and in the human body. Triglycerides are found in the blood. Together with the cholesterol in the bloodstream, they make up the plasma lipids.
The triglycerides that are in the blood may have been produced in the body, from carbohydrates or other sources of energy, or absorbed directly from fats in the diet. When food is eaten, the energy it contains may not used by the body immediately. Instead, it can be converted into triglycerides. These triglycerides can then be transported into the fat cells, where they will be stored until the energy they contain is needed. The release of triglycerides from the fat cells is regulated by hormones that help to ensure that enough energy will be made available when the body needs it.
If the level of triglycerides in the blood becomes too high, it can cause serious problems. When the levels of triglycerides are higher than normal, it is known as hypertriglyceridemia. This condition can occur as the result of certain diseases, such as diabetes, although it can also be the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Hypertriglyceridemia is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
A blood test is available that can test triglyceride levels. This test should be conducted after a night spent fasting, with no food or alcohol. Normal levels of triglycerides are below 150 milligrams per deciliter. A borderline high measurement would be between 150 and 199 milligrams per deciliter. A measurement of between 200 and 499 milligrams per deciliter is considered high, while measurements of 500 milligrams per deciliter or above are very high. The results will differ if the person being tested has not been fasting before the test.
The best way to treat or prevent high levels of triglycerides in the blood is to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and to eat a balanced diet. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to prevent triglyceride levels from becoming too high, so cutting back on the amount of calories consumed can be helpful. It is particularly important to limit consumption of saturated fats and trans fats. People who have high levels of triglycerides can help to lower them by changing from saturated fats to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated ones, such as olive oil. Oily fish are a healthier alternative to meat. It is better to switch to unsaturated fats than to substitute carbohydrates for the saturated fats since eating a lot of carbohydrates can raise the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Alcohol can also increase triglyceride levels, so it is best to drink in moderation. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and choosing low fat dairy products instead of the full fat versions can also be helpful.
In addition to eating well, it is sensible to take plenty of exercise. Approximately thirty minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week should help to keep triglyceride levels down.