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It can be upsetting to learn that you have high triglycerides. High numbers increase your 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 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.  

Bad habit No. 4: You only eat fried fish. Most fried fish has a lot of added oil -- the unhealthy type, saturated fat. That fat overpowers the type of fat found in fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep triglycerides down.                                                                                                                    

Better habit: Help yourself to two servings of grilled or broiled fish a week.

Choose fatty fish such as salmon, freshwater trout, or tuna, which are especially rich in omega-3s, then grill or broil them. Look for recipes with flavors you like. If you’re still having trouble tempting your taste buds, take heart. Walnuts, flaxseed, soy products, and dark greens are good sources of triglyceride-lowering omega-3s.

Bad habit No. 5: You drink several glasses of alcohol a day.

Too much beer, wine, or spirits can drive up triglycerides.