If your doctor orders a lipid panel for you, you will receive information about different fats found in your blood, including triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Certain dietary guidelines, like following the Mediterranean diet, have been linked to lower triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help lower triglycerides, as can exercise.
Background Information on Triglycerides
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in the blood. They are made of three fatty acids connected to a backbone. While your body makes some triglycerides, they also come from your diet. If your triglycerides levels are above 200 milligrams per deciliter, they are high, and high levels are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Western-style diets are rife with fast foods, refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages and are associated with higher levels of triglycerides. If your triglycerides are high, discuss them with your health care provider to receive health recommendations specific to you.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish, oils, eggs and wine while low in processed grains, saturated and trans fats. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 looked at people’s diets and triglycerides and found those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had lower triglyceride levels.
Even if you don’t currently follow the Mediterranean diet, starting the diet now may show results. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015, researchers had subjects follow the Mediterranean diet or continue with their current diet. At the end of the 12-week study, those following the Mediterranean style diet had lower triglycerides levels compared to the control group.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides by slowing down production and increasing triglyceride clearance. Krill oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. In a study published in Nutrition Research in 2014, researchers fed subjects either a placebo of olive oil or four different dosages of krill oil each day for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, all subjects receiving krill oil had an average 10.2 percent reduction in triglycerides. Talk to your doctor about a dosage of krill oil that would be beneficial to you.
Physical activity is recommended to help lower triglycerides. A study published in the American Heart Journal in 2012 broke subjects into four groups: a nonexercising control group, plus high-intensity, moderate-intensity and low-intensity groups for the six-month study. All groups who exercised experienced a reduction in their triglycerides. Those in the high-intensity group had a 23.7-milligram-per-deciliter drop in their triglycerides, while those in the moderate-intensity group had a more modest drop.
However, those in the low-intensity group had a 39.9-milligram-per-deciliter drop in their triglycerides, the greatest among all the groups. This may be due to the fact fatty acids need oxygen to be metabolized. At a lower intensity of exercise, oxygen is more available than at higher intensities.