How to Lower Your Triglycerides
Good and bad cholesterol. Saturated and unsaturated fat. Sometimes it seems like you need a program to keep track of all the fat players in the story of heart disease.
Triglycerides may be the easiest to understand.
Simply put, they are fat in the blood. They are used to give energy to your body. If you have extras, they are stored in different places in case they are needed later.
A high level has been linked to a greater chance for heart disease. But just what your own level means and how much it helps to lower it is sometimes less clear.
You and your doctor have ways to lower your level if it is running high.
What Are Triglycerides?
They are important to life and are the main form of fat – they are sometimes called “lipids” -- in the body. When you think of fat developing and being stored in your hips or belly, you're thinking of triglycerides.
They are the end product of digesting and breaking down fats in food. Some are made in the body from other energy sources, such as carbohydrates. When you’re between meals and need more energy, your body’s hormones release them so you tap those unused calories.
How They’re Measured
Your doctor may give you a common test called a lipid panel. It checks for different types of cholesterol, including the levels of the "good" kind and the "bad" kind. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone 21 and older get a lipid panel at least every 5 years.
The levels are checked after an overnight fast. Fat from a recent meal can muddy the picture.
These tests are important because you rarely have any symptoms when your triglycerides are high, unlike with many other conditions.