Triglycerides (TG) are one of the important parameters in the lipid profile test. It is a type of fat present in the blood which is mostly stored in fat (adipose) tissue and can be used as an energy source for the body. If you have high triglyceride levels, you may be at a high risk of heart disease. This is why people who have a history of heart disease and those with high cholesterol levels are advised to keep a tab on their triglyceride level. According to the American Heart Association, the normal readings of triglycerides are 200 mg/dl and numbers above it are considered to make you prone to numerous health complications. Moreover, if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or if you are overweight or smoke, then the risk increases further.
So to help you keep your triglyceride levels under check, here are a few foods you must include in your diet.
Foods To Keep Your Triglyceride Levels In Check
Triglycerides are particles in the blood that transport fat. The calories from excess sugar and fat are stored in the body as triglycerides which can be later used as energy. However, high levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream is not a healthy sign as these act as a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and obesity.
As sedentary lifestyle and diet plays a major role in increasing your risk of cholesterol, experts suggest that with proper dietary intervention you can keep your triglyceride levels in check. Here are some foods that will help you to achieve this feat!
1. Fiber-rich foods
Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are considered to be one of the great natural sources of fiber. They contain soluble fibrous phytosterols which not only decreases the absorption of fat and sugar in the small intestine but also helps to lower the level of triglycerides in the blood. Studies have reported the role of a high-fiber diet in lowering and managing triglycerides. A study showed that a high-fiber diet caused a significant dip in the triglyceride levels. Moreover, it is also good for diabetics. A study revealed that supplementation of the diet with rice bran fiber decreased triglyceride level by around 8% in people with diabetes.
Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, barley, legumes, psyllium husk, chia seeds, flax seeds, peas, apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits. Also, fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants that protect the circulating cholesterol from oxidation which can cause free radical generation. These free radicals can negatively affect the overall health and increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, thereby offering an overall protective effect for the heart.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is known to exert a positive effect on the heart and cholesterol. It is found to lower triglyceride levels in the blood. The beneficial effect on triglycerides and heart is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. It is a type of polyunsaturated fats which are known to lower the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides and improve heart function.
According to the American Heart Association, eating two servings of fatty fish per week is good for the heart. Doing so can decrease your risk of heart disease by around 36%. Another study revealed that consuming salmon at least twice a week can significantly lower triglycerides. So do not forget to include fatty fish rich in omega-3 fats such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and tuna in the diet to improve your triglyceride levels and keep cholesterol under control.
Soy is not only rich in protein and fiber, which are good for the heart but also contain compounds which help lower cholesterol level. It is known to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels in the blood thereby helping you to improve heart health. A 2004 study showed how soy and animal proteins help in lowering triglyceride levels naturally. According to the study, soy protein was found to decrease triglyceride levels by around 12% more than that by animal protein in a span of around six weeks.
So if you have a high cholesterol level or are planning to lower your triglyceride levels naturally, then do not forget to include soy in your diet. The protein can be found in foods like soybeans, tofu, and soy milk, so make the most of it.
Nuts are undoubtedly one of the best sources of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and unsaturated fats, all of which are heart-healthy nutrients. As these are obtained from trees, they are rich in plant fats, sterols, and nutrients which are good for overall health. These nutrients contain compounds which can help lower blood triglycerides. Studies have shown that a serving of tree nuts can lower triglyceride levels by 2.2 mg/dL.
Some of the common tree nuts which are good for the heart include almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts. As these nuts are loaded with calories, it is suggested to eat these in moderation. Hence, it is advised to eat at least 3 servings to a maximum of 7 servings per week to decrease the fat content in the blood. Moreover, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol also increases when you consume foods rich in essential fatty acids such as almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Garlic is one of the widely used spices in India due to its health benefits. It is known to be a healthy herb for the heart for its cholesterol and blood pressure lowering properties. The antioxidant properties of garlic prevent oxidation of free radicals and cholesterol which can up the risk of heart disease. Garlic not only lowered triglyceride levels but it also reduced total cholesterol levels. Moreover, it also helps to regulate glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion aiding to keep your blood glucose levels in check along with triglycerides.
Studies have shown that as compared to cooked and boiled garlic, raw garlic has a profound effect in reducing glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Although including garlic in your dishes is not a bad idea but to make the most of it, it is wise to eat it raw. You can have 2 cloves of garlic with water early in the morning (preferably on an empty stomach) to reap its benefits.
Additionally, here are a few diet tips to help you lower triglyceride levels
– Reduce your intake of saturated and trans-fat in your diet which is commonly found in animal products, fast foods, commercially baked goods, and other packaged foods.
– You can opt for oils rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil or canola oil for cooking. These not only keep your cholesterol in check but also protect the heart.
– Eat a diet low in carbohydrates and fats and high in protein, especially plant proteins which can help control triglycerides naturally
– Eat more vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and celery as well as potatoes with skin. These are highly recommended for their fiber content. It is preferable to steam vegetables but they may be boiled too.
Follow these simple tips to control triglycerides and cholesterol level at home. Also, go for regular health tests and consult your doctor if your lipid profile tests are abnormal or indicate high cholesterol level despite following diet control and taking medications on time. Stay healthy, stay happy!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
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