When you eat food, the calories that your body doesn’t need to use right away are converted into triglycerides – which are a type of lipid (fat) found in the blood and stored within your fat cells. When your body needs energy in-between meals, hormones will release these saved triglycerides. This is important to note because if you consume too many calories from carbohydrate-rich and fat-rich foods, then you will have what is known as hypertriglyceridemia, or high triglycerides.
Not only is regulating your cholesterol levels and blood pressure important, so is keeping an eye on your triglycerides which are an important measure of your heart health. If your triglyceride levels go too high, then you will have an increased risk for heart disease due to the increase of lipid (fat) within your blood. Plus, triglycerides have a contributing role in the hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (atherosclerosis) – which increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. This, obviously, is not a good thing. With a simple blood test, you can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range or not.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Below are the triglyceride levels that are considered normal to high, take a look:
- Normal: less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mn/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high: 150 + 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends that an “optimal” triglyceride level is 100 mg/dL (1.1 mmol/L) or lower. This level will improve your heart health, which is why it is considered optimal. However, the AHA doesn’t recommend any form of drug treatment to reach this optimal level. Instead, try healthy forms of lifestyle changes to lower triglyceride levels such as: exercise, dietary changes, weight loss, and stress reduction. Why should I try dietary and lifestyle changes before taking medication? Because research has shown that triglyceride levels respond very well to both, which is great news!
Therefore, if you haven’t been monitoring your triglyceride levels, then now would be the perfect time to start. Speak with your physician to see if they can check your triglyceride levels as part of your cholesterol test, which is known as a lipid panel or lipid profile. Preparation for this type of testing will require a fast of 9 to 12 hours in length before the blood can be drawn to receive an accurate triglyceride measurement.