Have you ever had a blood test at your local clinic that showed elevated triglyceride levels – the primary type of fat in the blood? These high levels are linked to high cholesterol levels and may raise the risk of you getting other diseases too. It is true that we need to keep control of our triglyceride levels so that we do not put ourselves at risk of cardiovascular disease and pancreatitis. There are many other health problems associated with high triglyceride levels as well.
In this article we explain what you can do to help yourself. With some simple changes in your diet you could make a big improvement in your triglyceride levels and protect your health.
Foods that increase your triglyceride level
If you can stop the so-called “bad” fats from entering your diet in the first place, you stand a good chance of reducing the levels in your blood quickly. The fats that you need to avoid are saturated or trans fats. They are found in the following animal or plant products:
- Convenience foods: these are made with profit in mind! Therefore they are made using very low quality oils and fats, and are generally cooked at high temperatures.
- Meat fats: this includes all non-lean cuts of beef, pork and lard.
- Whole dairy products. Though we know the health benefits of yogurt, eating dairy in excess is never healthy.
- Margarine: though margarine is a plant-based product, it is made from poor quality ingredients and undergoes a great deal of processing. It is an unhealthy product, high in trans fat. Margarine is used as an alternative to butter because butter is high in animal fats. Overall, butter is the more natural product and so consuming a small quantity of butter is the best option from a health point of view.
- Creams and creamy sauces. Yes, they make everything tasty, but are best avoided in large quantities.
- Coconut and palm oil. Though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is a medium-chain fatty acid, making it healthier than all the other saturated fats. It can also help speed up the metabolism and burn fat, as it isn’t stored in the body.
- Mass-produced baked goods and pastries: these also contain large amounts of saturated fats, and are produced using refined flour and sugar. They contain hardly any vitamins and minerals and are therefore of little benefit to the human body.
- Cured meats (such as bacon and ham) especially those that are high in fat.
- Any foods that contain hydrogenated fats: you can find this out by reading the labels of all the food products you buy.
Healthy fats in your diet
You cannot avoid all fats! The body needs some fats to function properly and fat is one of the essential food groups. There are many ways in which you can provide your body with the healthy fats it needs.
Here are some ideas of how you can incorporate healthy fats into your diet:
- Cook with vegetable oils extracted during the first cold press, like olive, sesame, or linseed (flax) oil.
- Eat plenty of dried fruits, which also contain essential fibre and minerals.
- Make avocado a part of your diet. It is a very nourishing, healthy food.
These foods can be safely consumed in moderation. Dried fruit is great for snacking on. Balance your fat intake with carbohydrates and proteins to improve absorption.
Whole grains have been shown to reduce blood triglyceride levels. The highly refined grains, however, do not! Always try to buy the wholegrain version of:
Make sure that your bread or pastry products are made from rye, oats or buckwheat. You could use buckwheat to make pancakes in the place of white flour. This is a typical French dish.
When you are including an animal protein in your diet it is best to choose fish rather than meat. Oily fish are best due to their omega-3 fatty acid content. Popular oily fish choices include:
Fruits and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are essential for health. Choose those that are in season and grown organically if you can. Make sure that you get at least five servings of raw or cooked vegetables or fruit. Leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, berries, arugula, Swiss chard), citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, mandarins, grapefruit, limes) and apples are best.
You will be more successful in lowering your triglyceride levels if you drink alternatives to dairy products. Swap dairy for plant-based alternatives, which are very healthy. You could try rice, almond, or oat milks – they are completely cholesterol free.