You need some triglycerides, but too much can raise your risk of serious disease
Our bodies need triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood, for energy. But if they are too high (normal is less than 150, borderline-high is 150 to 199, high is 200 to 499, very high is 500 or higher), they can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The most common causes of high triglycerides are obesity and poorly controlled diabetes. They can also be caused by hypothyroidism, kidney disease and some medications. Lifestyle choices that promote overall health can help lower your triglycerides. If your triglycerides are elevated, you should limit or avoid these foods:
Some studies suggest alcohol is good for your heart. But too much of it can drive up triglyceride levels. That’s because the sugars that are naturally part of alcohol, whether it’s wine, beer or liquor, can be a problem.
Beans are excellent sources of fiber. But if they’re made with sugar or pork (think baked beans), the bad may outweigh the good. Check the nutrition label to see what’s in them, and how much sugar and fat you’re getting. You could also switch to black beans, which are a great source of fiber and protein, without saturated fats or added sugar.
Baked goods generally are made with butter, which is loaded with saturated fat. Because of your high triglycerides, you should limit the saturated fat in your diet. Check the nutrition facts label to know the amount of saturated fat in your pastries.
Use olive oil instead of butter or margarine, which may have too much saturated fat or trans fat, to cook. Canola, flaxseed and walnut oils also are healthier alternatives.
Fish is good for your heart—in fact, the American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty fish twice a week—but if you’re buying canned fish, check the label to see if it’s packed in oil. Choose canned fish packed in water instead.
Coconut is the in thing these days, with many touting the health benefits of coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flakes and coconut oil. But coconut is also high in saturated fats.
If the choice is between fruit and chocolate cake, fruit wins hands down every time. But if your triglycerides are high, you may need to cut down to two to three pieces of fruit a day to limit the natural sugars found in fruit.
You don’t have to give up meat entirely, but choose lean cuts and trim visible fat.
Honey and maple syrup are healthier than refined sugar. But like sugar, these sweeteners can raise triglyceride levels.
Your body turns too much starch—breads, pasta, potatoes, cereals—into triglycerides. You can still eat them, but have the proper serving sizes. A serving is a slice of bread, 1/3 cup of rice or pasta, or half a cup of potatoes or cooked oatmeal. This also applies to starchy vegetables, like corn and peas. Choose other options, like cauliflower, kale or mushrooms.
Cut back on sugary drinks, whether it’s soda, fruit juice or sweet tea. Limit yourself to no more than 8 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks each day.