What is triglyceride? Simply, it’s a type of fat that is composed of 3 fatty acid molecules and glycerol. Fatty acids are your body’s highest yielding source of energy. A triglyceride is the form in which this source of energy is stored and transported. The storage site for this fat is adipose tissue and transportation system is your bloodstream. Triglycerides also contribute to the structure of cell membranes.
The formation of a triglyceride occurs in adipose tissue, liver and cells in the lining of your small intestine. The fatty acids used to build triglycerides comes from the broken down fats and any excess calories consumed beyond your body’s current energy requirement.
Your liver dumps it’s production of triglycerides into your bloodstream for transport to adipose tissue storage. Triglycerides emerging from the small intestine is absorbed into your bloodstream for transport to your liver.
When your blood regularly flows with an excess of triglycerides, this fat has a tendency to cling and create plaque on your artery walls. A buildup of this stuff causes your arteries to stiffen, harden, thicken and narrow (atherosclerosis), which can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Two other health conditions related to high triglycerides are obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Basically, high triglyceride causes are consumption fat and calories beyond what your body needs at any given time. Generally, having a high level of triglyceride in your blood correlates to an overabundance of sugar, carbohydrate and fat in your diet.
In some cases, high triglycerides may be caused by:
- kidney failure
- liver problems
- kidney disease
- uncontrolled diabetes
- rare genetic disorders affecting lipid metabolism
- drug side effect ~ beta blockers, contraceptives, diuretics, steroids, tamoxifen
Blood levels of high triglyceride often occur in concert with high cholesterol levels. Measuring your triglycerides is usually a part of cholesterol type blood test. And if your level is above 200, then following a lower triglycerides diet is a must, as well as weight loss and regular exercise.
Essentially, a lower triglycerides diet means reducing overall calories, which entails:
- refrain from sugary, refined foods, alcohol
- eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, salmon)
- no trans fat ~ fried foods, cookies, crackers, snack cakes
- consume monounsaturated fat ~ olive, peanut, canola oils
- limit cholesterol intake ~ meats, egg yolks, whole milk products
If your diet and lifestyle changes fail to lower your triglycerides, then your health care provider may prescribe drug therapy, such as niacin, fibrates, statins and omega-3 fatty acid supplements (Lovaza).