What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a form of fat found in certain foods (such as meat and dairy produce), but are also made in the liver. Similar to HDL and LDL they play a role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
How are they made?
Unused calories from the food you eat are converted into triglycerides for storage within the body as fat.
What is their function?
Because triglycerides provide fat, they have an important role to play in our metabolism. When the body requires these fats as an energy source, the immune system prompts the breakdown of the triglycerides to release them. If not, they are stored as unwanted body fat.
What happens if they are imbalanced?
When triglycerides are raised you are more at risk of developing heart disease. After a meal that is rich in triglycerides it can take a few hours for your levels to return to normal.
If you are consistently eating meals that are high in triglycerides your body is unable to release them and are stored in your body which could lead to a number of health implications, including heart disease, liver disease, and also the metabolic syndrome which is linked to diabetes.
How to calculate your triglyceride levels?
A reading greater than 2.4 mmol/L (millimole per litre) would be considered moderately high. A level above 5.7mmol/L would be considered to be very high. A simple blood test can be done to get these readings.
How do you improve your triglyceride levels?
As with LDL and HDL cholesterol many of the factors that influence triglycerides are within your control such as activity, diet and smoking. If you are overweight, losing weight can have a big impact as well.
If your triglyceride levels are moderately high, avoiding added sugars, and reducing your carbohydrate intake are important dietary steps to take. Dietary fat should not impact your levels unless you already have very high triglyceride levels. In this situation, it is crucial that you avoid dietary fat to control your levels.