Triglycerides, also called triacylglycerides or triglycerols, are a type of fat found in the blood. Fats are stores of the extra calories the body gets from eating, as the body uses up the necessary calories and the rest stores them as fats.
Triglycerides pass to the blood from the organs, liver and intestine, being transported by proteins : lipoproteins, responsible for transferring cholesterol and other fatty substances through the blood.
When triglycerides are high, cardiovascular risk increases . It can also increase your propensity to become overweight, have diabetes, or have liver or kidney problems. Therefore, it is important to keep triglycerides at normal intervals.
A simple blood test accurately measures the amount of triglycerides in your blood.
- If the numbers exceed 500 mg / dl, triglyceride levels are considered to be very high and can cause acute pancreatitis.
- From 200 to 499 mg / dl we are facing high figures and are considered a cardiovascular risk factor.
- The desirable level would be less than 150 mg / dl.
The factors that can increase the triglyceride level are:
- Overweight and obesity.
- With age it can increase triglyceride levels.
- Genetic inheritance,that is, having relatives with high triglycerides.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Do little physical activity (sedentary lifestyle).
- Some diseases suchas diabetes, hypothyroidism , kidney and liver diseases are associated with high levels of triglycerides. In addition, some medications can cause an increase in triglycerides, such as contraceptives, steroids, and diuretics (used to flush out excess water in the body through urine).
- On the other hand, women after menopause and diabetics must take special care.
- The trans fats ,a type of fatty acid found in the food we eat, and are common in pastries, frozen precooked foods and snacks, also increase triglycerides.
According to the Spanish Heart Foundation , to keep triglyceride levels below 150 mg / dl it is necessary:
- Follow a diet low in saturated fat, which is the most harmful for our body. Use less oil or butter when preparing food.
- Foods rich in omega-3s, such as sardines, mackerel, nuts, etc.
- Eat at least five servings a day of fruit and vegetablesand small portions of meat, fish, and chicken.
- Eating skimmed milk and yogurt.
- Trim visible fat from meats. It is necessary to read the labels of “total fat” and “saturated fat” since, in some cases, the fat is not visible because it is mixed with other ingredients.
- At least three times a week for 20-30 minutes.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Losing weightin case of obesity or overweight.
- Avoid simple sugars(sugar, soft drinks, honey, and sugary drinks).
A balanced diet, rich in omega 3s, physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle, is essential to keep triglycerides low.
In patients above 250 mg / dl, drug treatment should be considered.
- Fibrates:gemfibrozil, fenofibrate, or clofibrate . They are more specific medications to reduce triglycerides.
- Ezetimibe: This medicine reduces the level of triglycerides that are absorbed in the intestine. It is administered orally and is usually taken once a day, with or without food.