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It can be upsetting to learn that you have high triglycerides. High numbers are associated with an increased chance of getting heart disease. But there’s good news, too. If you change a few bad habits into better ones, you can bring your triglycerides down and keep your heart healthy.

Bad habit No. 1: You drink soda, sweetened tea, or fruit juices.

Sugar and fructose, which are used as sweeteners, can raise triglycerides. The extra calories in sugary drinks can also make you gain weight, which puts added strain on your heart and contributes to cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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Better habit: Quench your thirst with sugar-free alternatives.

Artificially sweetened drinks are possibly better than those with sugar or fructose because they are less likely to raise triglycerides. But water is the most convenient and inexpensive thirst quencher around. To add some zing, squeeze lemon or lime in sparkling water.

Bad habit No. 2: You eat white foods like pasta, rice, or bread at most meals.

Like sugar, foods such as white flour or semolina can raise triglyceride levels. So do starchy foods like white rice and potatoes.

Better habit: Switch to whole grains.

Whole-grain pasta is a great alternative, especially for bold sauces like a classic tomato sauce. Look for a tasty whole-grain bread for sandwiches. And eat brown rice instead of white rice. It has a rich, nutty flavor that's perfect for making stir-fry. Instead of white potatoes, try grains like quinoa and barley.  

Bad habit No. 3: You eat a lot of red meat.

Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream. Foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, boost levels. Butter and cheese contain these same triglyceride-boosting fats. 

Better habit: Choose lean meats or protein alternatives.

Opt for chicken and unprocessed turkey that are lower in saturated fat. Another healthy option: Make meatless meals. Vegetarian pastas, chilis, and stir-fries offer a delicious alternative to meat dishes. Avoid dishes loaded with cream or cheese in favor of recipes that use vegetable oil and feature plenty of vegetables.