A simple blood test will tell if you have too much of a fat called triglycerides in your blood. To avoid problems like hardening or thickening of the arteries, heart attack or stroke, try to keep your triglycerides levels under 150 mg/dL. The great news is that changing your eating habits can yield remarkable results.
Here are a few simple ideas that can help you:
Sugar increases triglycerides, so lower your consumption to no more than 8% of your total calories each day. Check the ingredients on processed food labels for the following, all of which are forms of sugar:
- Corn syrup
Starches such as potatoes, white rice and pasta, as well as foods made from white flour, can kick up your triglycerides. Substitute wild rice and whole-grain pastas and breads.
Even very small amounts of alcohol can boost your triglycerides. If your number is over 150 mg/dL, choose water, tea, coffee or club soda.
Cut back on red meat, egg yolks and whole-fat dairy products, all of which contain saturated fats. Substitute monounsaturated fats from plant sources, such as olive, peanut and canola oils. Cold water fish, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, which are high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids, are also great substitutes.
Trans fats are man-made fats that show up in shortening and fried foods. They're bad for your heart. They raise your triglyceride level. Read the ingredients of any processed food you're about to purchase. If it contains the words partially hydrogenated, put the product back on the shelf and move on.
You also can give a boost to your triglyceride-lowering program by exercising regularly and lowering your weight—even by a small amount—if it's higher than it should be.