Triglycerides are the chemical form of most fats as they exist within the body. Calories that are not immediately burned may also be converted into triglycerides and stored in the fat deposits throughout our bodies, especially in abdominal fat. Like excess cholesterol, excess triglycerides will contribute to the buildup of plaque in the walls of our arteries, thus increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. Continually high triglyceride levels can also cause other unwanted complications. For example, it predisposes individuals to type 2 diabetes and its related complications as well as dementia and a legion of dangerous inflammatory disease.
In the decades past it was believed that triglyceride levels below 149 mg/dL were safe, but more recent studies are suggesting the fasting (taken twelve or more hours after last eating) level of triglycerides should be below 100 mg/dL, and optimally below 80 mg/dL for healthy individuals. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, then an even lower 60 mg / dL or less should be your goal. Non-fasting levels (taken two to eight hours after eating) should be under 116 mg/dL. The higher these levels, the higher the risk of having a cardiovascular event.
Again, the best place to start in addressing this risk is to modify what you eat. Avoid sugars and high-glycemic foods that raise the blood sugar quickly. Those foods and beverages also raise the triglyceride levels. Instead, choose foods that are on the Mediterranean diet, but for more specific information, the University of Sydney manages a Web site about the glycemic index of foods. The glycemic index (GI) gives an indicator of the rate at which different carbohydrates and foods break down to release sugar into the bloodstream. Glucose has a GI of 100, and most refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and instant potatoes, have a high GI. The range of the glycemic index is 0 to 100. Even juices and smoothies that seem to be healthy can raise your triglyceride levels as well as your blood sugar. The glycemic index applies only to carbohydrates and sugars and not proteins and fats. Process foods and those high in carbohydrates have higher GIs and tend to elevate the triglycerides. According to the University of Sydney site, foods that have a GI of 70 or higher are considered high, and 55 or lower are considered low-glycemic foods. In fact, foods with little or no carbohydrates in them will have a GI of 0 to 1, such as broccoli.
Ingesting soluble fiber, such as PGX, before, during, or after your meals or eating foods high in fiber will lower the glycemic index of those foods, as it delays the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars and prevents the rapid rise in blood sugar. Also avoid deep-fried foods such as French fries, chips, fried chicken, fried fish, and doughnuts, and avoid all trans fats, as these will raise triglyceride levels. Decrease intake of polyunsaturated fats such as most salad dressing, cream-based soups, gravies, and sauces. Restrict or avoid alcohol since this also raises triglyceride levels.
Fish oil or omega-3 capsules are also an effective way to reduce triglycerides. A good dosage for most people would be 1,000 mg, three times a day, but if your triglyceride levels are high, it’s better to take the higher amount, have your blood retested every two or three months to ensure your dosage is having the proper effect.
Niacin (2,000 to 3,000 mg every day, usually in divided doses after breakfast and dinner to avoid flushing) can also significantly lower triglycerides, as well as address high total and LDL cholesterol and low HDL. Niacin can have an unpleasant skin flushing, burning, and itching side effect, so gain we suggest taking it after meals two times a day and with low-dose (80 mg) aspirin (one to three with each dose) to avoid or minimize flushing.