What are triglycerides? Why should you be concerned? For anybody older than 35, it makes sense to learn what they are, how they function relative to our physical well-being and how, left unmanaged, they can pose real dangers to your life.
Triglycerides are the most common type of dietary fat you find in both vegetable and animal protein. They account for about 95 percent of all these fats. They’re present in most of the food we eat, and once digested they deliver energy to your body and cells through the bloodstream. Those not spent are stored as body fat.
If you’re one of those who love to eat, chances are you’re eating more calories than you burn. As you age, you need less calories on a day to day basis, as your metabolism begins to slow down. Have you matched that by eating smaller, less fatty meals?
Chances are, you have an excess of triglycerides circulating in your blood. A high level spells an increased risk of critical health issues. You are also at risk of developing “metabolic syndrome“, a set of health disorders that sets you up dangerously for diabetes, stroke and heart Disease.
Any three of these health problems will tell you if you’re at risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome:
- Hypertension (High blood pressure)
- Too much fat around the stomach
- Above normal sugar count (glucose levels)
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High level of triglycerides.
CHOLESTEROL’S ROLE RELATIVE TO TRIGLYCERIDES
Similar to triglycerides, cholesterol is a substance made of fat that makes its way into your bloodstream. They work differently though. While triglycerides serve as fuel for your body’s cells, cholesterol aids in certain metabolic processes such as building cells and producing hormones.
There are two types cholesterol, more popularly known as the “good cholesterol” (HDL-High density lipoprotein), which helps get rid of fat in the arteries, and the “bad cholesterol” (LDL-Low density lipoprotein). Over time, if too much LDL cholesterol accumulates in your body, they will cause plaques of fat to form on the walls of your blood vessels, narrowing the passageway of blood into your heart. When this is totally blocked, a heart attack or stroke will result.
The hard fact is that a high level of triglycerides is the key contributory factor in the development of blocked arteries. Medical research has shown that people with too much triglycerides have low HDL (the “good”cholesterol which helps remove body fat.)
7 STEPS TO KEEP THOSE TRIGLYCERIDES DOWN
Eat the right foods and adopt an effective exercise scheme and it won’t take long for you to see those triglycerides going back down to healthy levels. Here are what the medical experts suggest :
- Forget those sweet desserts and pastries – the sugar in these sweets would tend to quickly raise triglycerides in your body.
- Stay away from alcohol – for a lot of people, even a small amount of alcohol can trigger an upswing of triglycerides.
- Eat lots of food with the “good” fats (those rich in omega 3 fatty acids) – The American Heart association recommends 2 servings a week of tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines & Salmon. Flax and hemp seed are good vegetable sources.
- Keep your weight healthy – Ask your doctor or a professional health expert what should be your ideal weight. A good dietitian will guide you with a personalized meal plan to steer you toward good health.
- Work out an eating plan that is low in saturated fats – Use olive oil , granola oil, flaxseed oil or rice bran in frying your foods instead of shortening, lard or margarine.
- Go for the high fibre foods – the good, old reliable fruits and vegetables, rice and oat bran, whole grain, beans and peas will help you get a better control of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol.
- Exercise regularly – a good workout program will burn off your unwanted triglycerides and increase the level of your good cholesterol (HDL).
At the end of the day, you’ll have to remember that high levels of triglycerides contribute greatly to conditions that could lead to critical health risks. Keep these triglycerides down and you’ve won half the battle.