I chose the topic of High Triglycerides because there are three of us in my family that
have them. My grandmother, my father and I all have high triglycerides, my grandmother died in her
sixties because of this. My father is treated by the medication Lopid. I am currently treated by
Tricor and Omega 3. In 1998 at the age of 27 is when I was diagnosed with high triglycerides. I had
asked my doctor for a lipid panel to be done, I was at 1000 then. I only asked because what I had
found out about my grandmother and my father. I changed my diet some and was put on
medication. In 2006 I was seeing a new doctor and had told him of my triglycerides, he checked them
and said they were under 200 and that was fine and took me off of my medication. In 2009 my
triglycerides were 1400, later in my research paper you will see that this is a very dangerous level. I
was hospitalized for two weeks until they came down to 800. I, of course was still not eating very
healthy and not exercising. I also found out I have Type 2 Diabetes and then I had a mild stroke. I
changed my eating habits a lot. I quit eating junk food, chips and dip, chips and cheese were my
two favorite snacks then. Now I eat a lot of vegetables, soon my levels came down. Although I still
have to take medication I am a lot healthier than I was.
Triglycerides are the main form of fat in the body and in your diet. Triglycerides provide
energy, they insulate the body, they protect internal organs from shock, provide an energy reserve and
they help your body to use carbohydrates and protein efficiently. So if your triglycerides are too high
this is because there is too much fat in your blood. A triglyceride has three molecules of fatty acid and
is combined with a molecule of alcohol glycerol. (MedicineNet.com) Glycerol serves as a backbone
for the three attached fatty acids. If you remove one of the fatty acids from a triglyceride, it becomes
a diglyceride. If you remove two fatty acids from a triglyceride, it becomes a monoglyceride. Before
most dietary fats are absorbed in the small intestine, two outer fatty acids are generally removed from
the triglyceride. This makes a mixture of fatty acids and monoglycerides that are absorbed into the
intestinal cells. After this is absorbed the fatty acids and monoglycerides mostly re-form into
triglycerides. (Contemporary Nutrition Chapter 5 pg. 166)
Triglycerides are the most common type of lipid found in our bodies and in foods. Each
triglyceride molecule has three fatty acids that bond to glycerol. Foods that contain fats and oils
are mostly in the form of triglycerides. Some fatty acids are transported in the bloodstream attached to
proteins although most fatty acids are formed into triglycerides by cells in your body.
(Contemporary Nutrition Chapt.5)
Triglycerides are also present in blood plasma, they are derived from fats eaten in foods
or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Calories that are ingested in a meal
and they are not used immediately by tissues are then converted to triglycerides, they are then
transported to fat cells and are stored. Hormones are what regulate the release of triglycerides from fat
tissue to meet the body’s needs for energy between meals. (www.heart.org)
Generally there is not a symptom of having high triglycerides. If its genetic then you
may have visible fatty deposits under your skin, this is called xanthomas. In rare cases you could
develop an inflammed pancreas, causing severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
If you have high triglycerides there are some other effects that can happen, metabolic
syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of elevated blood pressure, blood sugar and
cholesterol. This syndrome can lead to hardening of the arteries. It puts you at risk for a stroke and
pancreatitis. It can also lead to resistance to insulin, which would make a patient develop Type 2
There are many causes of high triglycerides. Being overweight or obese, physical
inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption or a diet high in carbohydrates(60% or
more of calories). There is also the possibility of an underlying disease or a genetic disorder that
could be the cause. (www.americanheart.org)
If you have an excess of triglycerides in your plasma this is very harmful. The name
for that is hypertriglyceridemia, it is linked to coronary heart disease in some patients. Elevated
triglycerides could possibly be a consequence of another disease, such as diabetes mellitus.
Hypothyroidism, kidney disease and medications are also causes of elevated triglycerides.
Before treating high triglycerides you would be tested for this. You would need to fast
overnight, having the test first thing in the morning. Do not drink alcohol before the test either. You
should fast 9-12 hours before the test is done, this includes food, liquids and any medication you are
taking. This lipid panel will show the good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The good cholesterol
is called HDL and the bad cholesterol is LDL. Once your blood is drawn a laboratory analyzes it. The
breakdown on this is less than 150 mg is normal, 150-199 mg is borderline-high, 200-499 is high, 500
and higher is very high. (Dr. Kevin Duke DO Providence, Utah)
Once your lipid panel is analyzed and your doctor meets with you and gives you your
numbers, together you will come up with a treatment plan. This plan is based on your weight, age,
health, diet and genetics.
Diet and lifestyle changes are good at lowering borderline-high levels. These include
staying at a healthy weight, limiting fats and sugars, being more active and limiting alcohol.
A lot of the time medications are also needed. Lopid and Tricor are the top two medications used, these
are Fibric acid Derivatives.
Other medications that also contain Niacin are Niacor, Nicotinic Acid, Slo-Niacin and Niaspan (these
medications should not be used if you are taking a blood thinner or if you have hemophelia or von
Willebrand Disease). (www.freemd.com) (George M. Rodgers, III, M.D., Ph.D. Hematologist at the
Huntsman Cancer Institute)
The first treatment option would be if you are a smoker, stop! If you are taking
Zyprexa stop, with a doctors consent of course. Eat a low cholesterol diet, eat a low fat diet and eat a
high fiber diet. You would want to eat less than 7% of the day’s total calories from saturated fat, 30%
or less of the day’s total calories from fat and less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day
Restrict simple carbohydrates and sugars. Avoid a lot of fruit juices and non-diet soda. Eliminate
alcohol or no more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Eat a diet high in Omega-3 or take an Omega 3
supplement. Develop a exercise plan, aerobic exercise is the best. Lose weight if you are overweight
and if medications are prescribed, take them. (www.freemd.com) If left untreated you have a great risk
of Coronary Heart Disease.
Foods that should be removed from your diet are, sugar, honey, molasses, jams,jellies,
candies, pies, cakes, cookies, candy, doughnuts, ice cream and frozen yogurt. Alcohol should also be
eliminated, sweetened cereals, flavored yogurts and sports or energy bars. Bagels, pasta, rice, potatoes
pizza, pretzels, popcorn and chips. Foods that should be reduced are red meat and fried chicken.
Change it to broiled or roasted poultry. Foods that should be increased are dark green leafy vegetables
and fruits, beverages such as fresh fruit juice, herbal tea, black coffee and drink lots of water. Fish and
lean cuts of meats such as chicken, turkey and veal.
If you have diabetes, keep it under control. Manage your weight to the best of your
ability. Limit alcohol, don’t eat more calories than you burn. Ask for a thyroid test, hypothyroidism can
cause triglyceride levels to be high also. (Dr. Kevin Duke, D.O. Providence, Utah) Keep your diet
a healthy one like a listed in the treatment plan.
Effects of diet:
A poor diet, a diet high in calories and fat leads to elevations of circulating triglycerides.
When cooking with oil always use olive oil, this is best for lowering triglycerides. A few foods
that would be best for your diet would be fatty fish, avocados and nuts(especially walnuts). The
more vegetables and fruits you eat the better. Avoid coconuts, avoid commercial baked beans( they
usually have sugar in them). Limit potatoes, corn, lima beans, dried peas and beans. Stay away from
doughnuts and other pastries. Fruits that are lower in fructose concentrations are best. These include
strawberries, bananas, peaches and cantaloupe. Reducing daily sugar intake to less than 100 calories,
which is 4 teaspoons is very helpful also. (Lifelong Health by Dr. David Lipschitz) Avoid
marbled beef and pork. Don’t eat the skin or fat off a turkey or chicken. Avoid processed meats, lunch
meats, organ meats such as kidneys or liver, and no frankfurters. If you eat eggs limit the egg yolks to
two per week.
Effects of activity/exercise:
When you increase your level of activity, whether you are exercising or everyday tasks,
it will benefit your health in many different ways. You will decrease triglyceride levels but also boost
high-density lipoproteins(HDL cholesterol). The good form of cholesterol removes the bad form.
In order to lower your triglycerides you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical
activity five or more days a week. This would be biking, walking, jogging, hiking, kayaking and cross-
country skiing. Playing a competitive sport like racquetball, tennis, soccer or basketball are also good
activities that will help lower triglycerides. Other things you can do to improve your triglyceride levels
include taking the stairs instead of an elevator, riding your bike to the store, raking, shoveling, mopping
vacuuming or even walking through the mall for some shopping. All these things are also going to
lower your triglycerides. (www.livestrong.com)
Throughout the research I have done it always comes back to diet and exercise are the
best thing for high triglycerides. If it is in your genetics, like myself you may have to take medication,
but your diet and exercise help a lot. Watch your calories, your fat and your sugars. If you have
diabetes or high blood pressure ask your doctor to do a fasting lipid panel. It doesn’t matter how old
you are, have it done. I was 27 when I found out mine were over a 1000, later I found out I had Type 2
Diabetes. The only reason I asked for this panel to be done was because I had found out my father and
grandmothers health issues. The sooner you find out the better. When I was first diagnosed I didn’t
change my diet completely, I was more careful but not as careful as I should have been. I still had to be
put on medication. Also, just from my experience, no one is perfect, get a second opinion if you feel
you need to. I felt I should and I didn’t, later I had a mild stroke, this may have been prevented if I had
been eating right, exercising and been on my medication. Catching this as early as I did I believe
helped a lot too. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to run these tests, it may just save your life.