How to lower high triglycerides

Triacylglycerols or triglycerides (TG) as they are commonly known are a kind of fat found in our body that the body uses for energy. Whatever we eat in excess of our immediate needs is finally converted to triglycerides, and carried in the blood for storage in the fat cells throughout our body as energy reservoir.

There is hue and cry about how bad cholesterol is for our heart but we do not hear much about triglycerides. The truth is, high TG levels also risk the chance for heart attacks and are an indication of metabolic syndrome which again increases risk for being diabetic , getting a stroke or heart diseases.

How does blood triglyceride go high? A high triglyceride level in our blood depends a great deal on an excess of total calorie intake, excess of fat, sugar and alcohol intakes. Triglyceride is also made from saturated fats, trans fatty acids and refined starchy foods. Excessive intake of natural sugar also increases triglyceride levels.

How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet

Causes of hypertriglyceridemia
Obesity particularly abdominal obesity
Eating more calories than one can burn
Kidney diseases
Poorly controlled diabetes
Alcohol excessiveness
Certain medications like birth pills, steroids, diuretics, Tamoxifen (breast cancer drug) etc.

There are other reasons why blood triglyceride levels increase like familial triglyceridemia, but we are not going into that here. We are focusing on right foods to eat and what to avoid for an optimal TG level.

Normal TG level is below 150mg/dl, though the American Heart Association recommends that we keep our levels below 100 mg/dl through good habits.

How to lower high TG level

The key words to note here are fats, sugars, alcohol and exercise.

Most importantly reduce weight if you are overweight. Since it is already mentioned earlier that excessive eating causes high TG, the focus should be to eat lesser than usual. Reducing eating will quickly reduce TG levels.

Reduce the culprits that lead to high TG levels like sugars and fats. Stop sweets, desserts, juices, added sugar or honey or jaggery, refined flours, white bread. Stop sources of trans and saturated fats – commercially available foods like bakery items, biscuits, snacks, fast foods, red meat, fried greasy foods, butter, margarine, partially hydrogenated oils.

Reduce coconut milk, ghee.

Choose fruits, lots of vegetables, fish, chicken without skin or fat, lean meat, fat free milk or curds, whole grains. Choose more of oils like sesame, peanut, olive, sunflower, etc

Exercise will help burn the extra calories or reduce your abdominal fat, thus reducing TG. You need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise depending on your weight. If you do not have time to exercise in one go, 2 or 3 sessions of physical activity throughout the day will also reduce TG levels.

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Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol is high in sugars and calories. Even small amount of alcohol consumption can easily increase TG levels. Should you drink at all, limit to one or two drinks a day.

If you are a diabetic getting blood sugar under control through diet and exercise will keep TG also within normal range.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at

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