Has your doctor told you that your triglycerides are too high? You may be concerned about the health risks, but you don’t know how to fix the problem.
Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in the blood. A normal amount of triglycerides is 150mg/dL or less. If your triglycerides are over 200mg/dL, you’re at higher risk of developing heart disease.
But have no fear! Lower your triglycerides with some dietary and lifestyle changes. Plus, you may be doing some of these things already!
Luckily, natural treatments for lowering triglycerides coincide with other healthy habits for weight loss, reducing chronic disease and getting more active.
Lifestyle and Diet Affect Triglycerides
Here’s 8 ways to lower your triglycerides naturally:
Tip #1: Control Your Calorie Intake
One of the biggest contributors to high triglycerides is eating too many calories. Not sure if you’re eating too many calories?
If you don’t track your calorie intake on a food tracker app, you may not know if you’re eating too many calories. But, there are a few ways to tell if you’re eating too much:
- Unintentional weight gain
- History of being overweight or obese
- Your clothes have gotten tighter
Has any of the above happened to you? If yes, you may be eating too many calories. These excess calories could be causing high triglyceride readings in your blood.
So, should you eat less? Yes, but don’t go too low.
Very low calorie diets can actually hinder weight loss! You shouldn’t follow very low calorie diets, even if you’re trying to lose weight. According to the Harvard School of Medicine (1):
- Women should eat no less than 1200 calories per day
- Men should eat no less than 1500 calories per day
To determine your proper calorie needs, visit a Registered Dietitian.
Tip #2: Get to a Healthy Weight
Achieving a healthy weight is beneficial for overall health, weight management and lowering triglycerides.
Here are the basics to a healthy weight:
- Eat the right amount of calories for your needs
- Exercise and track your progress with an app (or this great fitness tracker!)
- Get adequate sleep
- Eat nutritious foods (more on that next)
The “best” healthy weight differs from person to person. So, to talk to a Registered Dietitian to determine the best weight for you.
Tip #3: Go Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet is a science-backed diet that has been shown to potentially lower the risk of the following conditions:
- Lower risk of cognitive decline
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Lower risk of chronic disease
- Lower risk of certain cancers
- Lower risk of diabetes
Get my favorite Mediterranean cookbook here.
Tip #4: Eat Enough Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are your allies in lowering triglycerides and the risk of heart disease!
Aim to get healthy, unsaturated fats in your diet. Sources include:
- Cooking oils (i.e. vegetable oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil)
- Nuts and seeds (i.e. walnuts, pumpkin seeds, crushed flaxseed)
- Nut butter
- Fatty fish (i.e. tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout)
Tip #5: Eat Enough Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for lowering the risk of heart disease and other factors that contribute to heart health (2).
We get omega-3s from a variety of foods:
- Cod liver oil
- Fatty fish
- Omega-3 supplements
Some of the highest sources of omega-3s come from fatty fish. In fact, consuming just 8 ounces per week (2-3 servings) of non-fried, fatty fish provides the recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
How much is enough? See how much omega-3s you need (and how to get them daily)!
If you’re thinking about taking omega-3 supplements — think again! Consuming too much omega-3s (especially from high-dose supplements) may put you at risk for excessive blood thinning. This can inhibit your ability to form healthy blood clots.
Tip #6: Get More Exercise
According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you want to lose weight, you should get 300 minutes per week.
Are you meeting these requirements? Here’s how to get there:
- Split up exercise into 30 to 60-minute sessions
- Join a gym
- Invest in home cardio equipment like an exercise bike
- Get strength training equipment at home (I like this total body gym)
Tip #7: Eat More Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are found in all sorts of healthy foods!
- Whole grains (i.e. whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, ancient grains)
- Beans and legumes
Complex carbs digest slowly and give you long-term energy.
We also get fiber from complex carbs, which is helpful for digestion, movement through the gut and reducing cholesterol absorption (which improves heart health).
Even though over-consumption of calories from any food can raise triglycerides, complex carbs can help you feel full. When you feel full and satisfied from a meal that is rich in complex carbs, you’ll be less likely to overeat or snack between meals.
Tip #8: Limit Refined Sugars and Alcohol
Refined sugars and alcohol can pack in a lot of calories, cause weight gain and raise your triglycerides.
Try to keep refined sugars and alcohol intake to less than 200 calories per day. Here are some foods to limit:
- Alcohol (i.e. beer, wine, liquor)
- Cakes, pies, cookies
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (i.e. sports drinks, juices, soda)
- Loaded coffee and teas (i.e. coffee with sugars, syrups, creams)
- Packaged snack foods (i.e. chips, crackers)
While you may not be able to completely eliminate these foods from the diet, learn to control the portion sizes of these foods.
Think of alcohol and refined sugars as an occasional treat. Or, replace them with complex carbohydrate options. For example, instead of consuming a piece of cake for dessert, switch it out with a piece of fresh fruit.
Lower Triglycerides with a Healthier Lifestyle
As you can see, lowering triglycerides can be remedied using the same healthy lifestyle strategies you may already be trying to implement.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, eat heart-healthy or exercise more, lowering triglycerides naturally can fit seamlessly into a healthy plan.