Healthy Heart

What you can do to LOWER your TRIGLYCERIDES?

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Triglycerides are an important part of the cholesterol profile that is measured by your doctor. Our bodies store dietary fats as triglycerides by attaching fats to a sugar molecule. Triglycerides are used daily by our bodies in many important ways, so triglycerides are normally found circulating in the blood with other fatty molecules such as cholesterol. However, when levels of triglyceride in the blood become too high, this can be a risk for heart disease.

A normal triglyceride level is defined as less than 150 mg/dl

Triglycerides have a close relationship with HDL (the "good") cholesterol, and many of the factors that lower HDL also raise triglycerides. It is not uncommon to see elevated triglycerides (greater than 150) and low HDL (less than 40 for men, or less than 45 for women) occur together. The combination of elevated triglycerides and low HDL may increase the risk of coronary heart disease. High triglycerides are also often associated with diabetes, or may be an indicator of sensitivity to simple carbohydrates and alcohol.

The Top Ten Ways to Decrease Elevated Triglycerides

It doesn't take long to lower triglycerides by eating the right foods. We can often see changes in triglycerides in just a few days. However, it takes longer to change lifestyles!

  1. Decrease or eliminate sweets.

    • The sugar in sweets will quickly raise triglycerides in many people. Examples: soda, candy, cookies, pies, pastries, sweet desserts, and concentrated fruit juices.
  2. Decrease or eliminate alcohol.

    • Drinking alcohol is a strong contributor to high triglyceride levels. For people who are sensitive, even a small amount of alcohol can elevate triglycerides. The type of alcohol doesn’t seem to matter; beer, wine, or mixed drinks all have the same effect.
  3. Decrease refined carbohydrate-containing foods.

    • White rice and bread and pasta made from white flour or semolina can have an impact on triglycerides in sensitive individuals. However, diets which greatly restrict or eliminate high carbohydrate foods such as breads, pasta, cereal, and grains are very unhealthy and can actually contribute to heart disease. Instead, choose moderate amounts of whole grains with a higher fiber content such as 7-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and other grains such as quinoa, barley, oats, and millet.
  4. Choose foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, the "good" fats!

    • The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout) weekly. Other sources of omega-3 fats include: ground flax seed, flaxseed oil, soy products, legumes, walnuts, and dark leafy green vegetables. Include these foods daily! NOTE: These foods are low in saturated fat and contain mono- or polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. These foods also contain fiber and a number of other nutrients beneficial to the heart.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight.

    • Ask your physician or dietitian what a healthy weight would be for you. You may be surprised to discover that only a modest weight loss can greatly reduce your triglycerides, cholesterol, and your risk for heart disease. Ask for a referral to a dietitian to help you lose weight healthfully. A healthy diet does not have to involve food deprivation and hunger, and should not involve the exclusion of any one group of foods over any other (such as high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diets).
  6. Adopt an eating plan low in saturated fats and fried foods.

    • Use olive oil, canola oil, rice bran, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil instead of more saturated fats like butter, shortening, lard, or margarine. Avoid high fat meats, skin on poultry, sauces and spreads. Many restaurants serve foods high in the bad fats, and you may benefit from providing specific instructions to your server (For example, ask for dressings on the side, avoid bread coatings on fish, ask for low-fat preparation of all foods).
  7. Avoid trans fatty acids and hidden fats.

    • Avoid trans fats by avoiding any food with hydrogenated vegetable oil listed in the ingredient list. Avoid high fat foods such as regular fat meats, lunchmeats, hot dogs, and fatty snack foods. Be careful not to substitute foods high in sugar for these high fat foods.
  8. Choose high fiber foods.

    • Foods high in fiber will help to control your triglycerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Examples include: beans, whole grains, ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, rice bran, oat bran, fruits and vegetables. Be sure to drink more water when you begin to increase your fiber intake. It is also wise to increase dietary fiber slowly to prevent any intestinal discomfort.
  9. Eat more plant foods! Replace red meat with lower fat sources of protein.

    • Vegetable proteins such as dried beans, peas, and soy products are excellent ways to improve your health, and will have a direct effect upon lowering your cholesterol. White poultry, prepared without the skin, is also a lowfat source of protein.
  10. Exercise regularly.

    • Exercise will increase HDL cholesterol and burn off excess triglycerides. Exercise has many other benefits, including weight loss and control of blood sugar for people with diabetes.

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

3 tbs. olive oil1 pkg vegetarian meat alternative crumbles (such as MorningStar Farms, in the freezer section)
2-3 large zucchinis or summer squash
2 medium onions, diced1 cup low sodium, low sugar tomato sauce (such as Healthy Choice)
2 sweet red peppers, cubed
2 large carrots, grated 1 tsp. sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced2 tbs. chili powder
1 can kidney beans1 tsp oregano
1 (28 oz.) can low sodium diced Italian tomatoes, drained1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  3 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:

  1. In large saucepan sauté squash and onions in olive oil until tender. Add peppers, carrots, and garlic and continue to sauté 5 minutes.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, vegetable crumbles, tomato sauce, sugar, and spices. Simmer until cooked thoroughly, about 20 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3.  Serve over cooked brown rice.

Makes approximately 6 (1 cup) servings
Most of the fat in this recipe is in the form of the "good" fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). This recipe has an excellent fiber content!

To further reduce fat and calories use less olive oil.
Calories 390, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated fat 1 g, Total fiber 18 g, Sodium 200 mg

 

 

Please see your primary care physician and/or cardiologist before making any significant changes in your behavior or diet.