Lifestyle Changes Reduce Triglycerides
People Who Take Proper Steps Can Reduce Unhealthy Blood Fat Levels
April 18, 2011 -- People who take steps to alter their lifestyles and eat healthier diets can significantly reduce high levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that is associated with heart and blood vessel problems and other diseases, the American Heart Association says in a new scientific statement.
Changes can include substituting healthy, unsaturated dietary fats for saturated ones, exercising, and losing weight, which could reduce triglycerides by 20% to 50%, the AHA statement says.
“The good news is that high triglycerides can, in large part, be reduced through major lifestyle changes,” Michael Miller, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, says in a news release.
Lifestyle Changes Can Lower Triglyceride Levels
Miller, who also is director of the university’s Center for Preventive Cardiology, says, “High triglycerides are often quite responsive to lifestyle measures that include weight loss,” regular exercise, and changes in diet.
This is different from high cholesterol, in which lifestyle measures also are important but may not provide a solution, he says.
Miller and co-authors of the new statement analyzed more than 500 international studies done over the past three decades to arrive at their conclusions.
For people who are outside the normal range of triglycerides, the scientists recommend limiting:
- Added sugar to less than 5% to 10% of calories, or about 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories daily for men
- Fructose, from processed foods and naturally occurring foods, to less than 50 to 100 grams per day
Saturated fat to less than 7% of total calories
Trans fat to less than 1% of total calories
- Alcohol, especially if triglyceride levels are higher than 500 milligrams per deciliter
Nutrition Panels Don’t Tell All You Should Know
The researchers acknowledge that it’s often hard to know how much sugar is added in foods because the amount of added sugars is not listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of packaged foods.
The American Heart Association recommends drinking no more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages per week, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, because such beverages are responsible for most of the added sugar in American's diets.
The researchers also say that people with high triglycerides should focus on eating more vegetables; fruits that are lower in fructose such as cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, bananas, peaches; high-fiber whole grains; and especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are found primarily in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, lake trout, and albacore tuna.