Triglycerides are a form of fat that travels in the blood. The calories that are consumed and not immediately burned are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells for storage. During the course of the day, between meals, these fats are released back into the blood for transport to cells to provide energy for continued metabolism.
These fats are separate from cholesterol in that they are two different types of lipids. However, they are both related to heart disease risk and the possibility of having a stroke. Triglycerides provide energy to the cells and cholesterol helps build cells.
High levels of these fats in the blood can signal other conditions that make the risk of heart disease and stroke. These conditions include metabolic syndrome, a group of related conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure), excessive fat around the waist, diabetes, and abnormal or out of balance cholesterol levels. They can also indicate low function of the thyroid, liver, or kidneys. Certain medications can also lead to elevated levels of these fats.
There are several natural methods to lower triglyceride levels in the blood. Reducing the number of calories consumed and losing weight will reduce the number of calories converted to fat and stored. Reduction of the amount of sugar and refined flour can reduce these fats. One should also reduce the amount of cholesterol in the diet by limiting intake of red meats, eggs, and dairy products that are not reduced fat.
The types of fats consumed can also have an effect on triglyceride levels. Monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, peanut oil, and canola are better for the body than saturated fats such as those found in red meat. Trans fat from fried foods should be eliminated completely. One should also increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids by eating more fish like salmon.
A small amount of alcohol can raise triglyceride readings by a large quantity. Therefore, one should limit the intake of alcohol strictly.
Getting a minimum of 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least 5 days a week will also help lower the level of triglycerides in the blood. This will also help with the problems of burning more calories and losing weight.
If lifestyle changes are not sufficient to get triglyceride levels down, there are medications and combinations of medications that can help in this regard. Niacin is a B-complex vitamin, also known as nicotinic acid, that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Statins are another class of drug shown to affect the levels of cholesterol and fats in the blood. Levels of LDL cholesterol are lowered, along with triglyceride levels, while HDL cholesterol levels are moderately increased. This helps to restore the correct balance of these three substances.
In extreme cases, statins and niacin can be prescribed in conjunction for faster effectiveness. One can also take Omega-3 supplements as long as one's doctor is aware of any and all dietary supplements being taken as well the medications, including over the counter medications, being taken.