Triglycerides are the form of fat used for long-term energy storage in your body. Poor health habits can lead to the elevation of levels of triglycerides in your blood, increasing your risk for blood clots and cardiovascular disease. Consumption of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates are the single biggest contributor to high triglyceride levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Triglycerides are the form of fat most commonly found in food and in small amounts in the blood. A triglyceride molecule is constructed from three free fatty acids linked together to a backbone in the shape of an uppercase E. Where free fatty acids are intended for immediate energy production, triglycerides are used for long-term storage of fat energy due to their chemical stability.
Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are not soluble in water and must be linked to proteins to be carried through the blood. These proteins are called lipoproteins and can contribute to the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle typically leads to a high level of all lipids in your blood, medically called hyperlipidemia. However, it is possible for your triglycerides to be high without your blood pressure or cholesterol being high.
Role of Carbs
All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars to be absorbed into your body. Some carbs are broken into sugars rapidly, others slowly. In general, the more processed a carb is, the faster it is digested. As blood sugar rises after a meal, your body releases the hormone insulin to indicate to your cells it’s time to replenish their energy stores from the abundance of nutrients in the blood. However, if energy is not used due to low activity or the level of sugars in the blood is persistently high, the excess must be dealt with. Although some may be removed via urine and solid waste, the majority is converted into triglycerides for storage as fat. The increased production of triglycerides coupled with the resistance of fat from accumulating too rapidly leads to a buildup of triglycerides in the blood.
There are many ways to reduce the level of simple carbs in your diet. Primarily, avoid sweets and junk food. Substitute whole-grain products, avoiding highly refined flours and grains. Limit sweet beverages, such as soda and fruit juice, and alcohol. Choose vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains and fruit as the majority of your carb sources. If you intend to eliminate substantial amounts of carbs from your diet, consult with your physician before beginning for guidance and advice tailored to your individual health.
Other Ways to Lower Triglycerides
Integrate regular physical activity into your life. If you are out of shape, small changes such as parking farther away or taking the stairs can make a difference. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish, soybeans, flaxseed and walnuts. It may help to reduce overall calories and embark on a committed weight loss plan if you are overweight.