It is Heart Health month so I thought it was time to write about triglycerides. We know we don't want elevated levels of these things, but what exactly are they?
Well, triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. They are found in food, but our bodies also make them from excess calories. Calories consumed that are not immediately used by the body for energy are converted to triglycerides and stored in the fat cells. Overeating and drinking alcohol can increase triglycerides.
Having elevated levels of them is part of metabolic syndrome which is a major contributor to heart disease, which in turn ups the chance of "coronary events" - read "heart attacks." Other risk factors of metabolic syndrome are: abdominal obesity, low HDL or healthy cholesterol, elevated blood sugar and elevated blood pressure.
To decrease triglycerides levels the American Heart Association recommends:
- Maintain ideal weight
- Exercise regularly - 30 minutes daily if possible
- Eat a diet high in omega 3's fatty acids
- Substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — such as those found in canola oil, olive oil or liquid margarine — for saturated fats
- Reduce your intake of alcohol considerably