Brief summary: Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. They provide energy for the body, but having too much of them can be a problem for your heart health. High levels of triglycerides might be a sign of a medical condition that needs attention, like heart disease or diabetes.
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What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are fats that your body uses for energy. They come from the food you eat and are also made in the liver. When you have a meal, any calories that you don’t use right away get turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Later, hormones release these triglycerides when you need energy.
Why Should You Care About Triglycerides?
Too many triglycerides in your blood can cause problems. They can make your arteries hard and narrow, which makes it harder for blood to flow. This can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
What Are Normal Triglyceride Levels?
According to most health guidelines, normal triglyceride levels are:
- Normal: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Borderline High: 150-199 mg/dL
- High: 200-499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or more
How Can You Find Out Your Triglyceride Levels?
Your doctor can check your triglyceride levels with a simple blood test called a lipid panel. This test often includes checking your cholesterol levels too.
What Causes High Triglyceride Levels?
High triglyceride levels can be caused by various things, such as:
- Eating too many fatty foods
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Being overweight
- Having certain medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid problems
How Can You Lower Your Triglyceride Levels?
To lower your triglyceride levels, you might want to:
- Eat a healthy diet with less fat and sugar
- Exercise regularly
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Avoid alcohol
- Take medication if your doctor prescribes it
Can Medication Help?
Yes, medication can help if lifestyle changes aren’t enough. Your doctor will decide what’s best for you.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
You should avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, such as:
- Fried foods
- Fatty meats
- Full-fat dairy products
- Sugary drinks and snacks
How Are Triglycerides Different from Cholesterol?
Although both are types of fats found in the blood, triglycerides provide energy, while cholesterol helps build cells and hormones. High levels of both can be harmful to your health.
Can Children Have High Triglyceride Levels?
Yes, children can also have high triglyceride levels. It may be linked to a family history of high triglycerides, obesity, or a poor diet. If you’re concerned about your child’s triglyceride levels, speak with a healthcare provider.