Triglyceride is a fatty substance similar to cholesterol. We need some triglyceride, just like we need some cholesterol. But, like cholesterol, too much damages blood vessels and raises your risk for heart disease. A desirable triglyceride level is less than 150mg/dl. 150 – 199mg/dl is considered borderline high, 200 – 499mg/dl is high, and 500mg/d or more is very high.
Many of the things that raise LDL can also raise triglycerides:
- Untreated diabetes
- Untreated hypothyroidism
- Chronic renal disease
- Liver disease
- Lack of estrogen in women
Triglycerides, as well as LDL and total cholesterol tend to increase during the perimenopausal period, while HDL decreases. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise during this time will help minimize these lipid changes.
There are ways to help lower your triglycerides:
- Losing weight if obese and treating the above medical conditions
- Decreasing or stopping alcohol consumption will help lower high levels
- Changing your diet to reduce carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, and sometimes increasing protein and/or replacing saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet with healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
- Quitting smoking
A small proportion of people with very high triglycerides are deficient in lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme needed to process triglycerides. This is most often treated with medication and by reducing fat in the diet to less than 10%. Your doctor can let you know if this pertains to you.