Cholesterol

Causes of High Triglycerides but Normal Cholesterol?

Parul Dube

December 10, 2022

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are the two main types of cholesterol found in our bodies. Our body produces LDL, also called “bad cholesterol,” and it absorbs LDL from diets high in cholesterol, such as red meat and dairy items. LDL has the potential to interact with other fats and chemicals in your blood, clogging your arteries.

Blood flow can be reduced by artery blockages, leading to significant health issues like heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Therefore, health coaches and physicians advise reducing LDL levels due to its possible implications.

HDL, also known as good cholesterol, helps keep the heart healthy. HDL moves bad cholesterol (LDL) from your arteries. Generally speaking, doctors advise patients to have greater HDL cholesterol levels.

Triglycerides (TGs) are a form of fat present in the blood. Your risk of heart disease can rise if your triglyceride levels are high. Fortunately, you can lower your triglyceride level following the guidelines suggested for several other conditions, such as losing weight, exercising, and avoiding refined carbohydrates.

According to research, triglyceride levels can affect the risk of heart disease if they rise too high. When too many calories get consumed, the body stores them as triglycerides for use at a later stage. Triglyceride levels are viewed as normal when they are less than 150 mg/dL and high when they are more than 200 mg/dL. 

Many people can reach a healthy level by making lifestyle modifications. Therefore, it’s essential to reach out to experts in the field, like nutritionists at HealthifyMe, who can immediately identify the root cause and make changes to the dietary intake/ food plan and exercise regime to reduce the health/ medical issue steadily.

What causes high triglycerides?

Elevated triglyceride levels can result from a variety of circumstances. However, your genes, medical history, and medications are sometimes responsible.

Diet

It is simple to figure out how a high-calorie diet can produce higher triglyceride levels. Our body transforms calories it doesn’t immediately need into fatty triglycerides.

The body stores fat to utilise it later for energy release. However, a constant increase in the stored fat leads to unhealthy levels of fat accumulation, and your liver will need to manufacture more triglycerides to store those extra calories. Thus, one must ensure a balanced diet to ensure healthy triglyceride levels.

You can develop high triglyceride levels if you consume too many calories, especially from carbohydrates and harmful saturated fat.

Obesity

High triglyceride levels in your body can be a result of obesity brought on by a bad diet. Also, this is related to calorie intake and how our body stores additional calories.

Additionally, there is research done to support the idea that obesity activates your body’s fat-producing genes, resulting in the production of more triglycerides than your body can utilise.   

One common side effect of obesity is insulin resistance. Our body tissues stop responding to insulin when insulin resistance occurs. As a result, the body struggles to burn fatty acids, such as triglycerides.

Smoking

As per numerous research, smoking leads to elevated triglyceride levels. There could be two causes for this. The first is that tobacco products, particularly nicotine and tar, are known to stimulate the production of other triglycerides in your body.

Smoking also reduces the amount of high-density lipoproteins, also known as good cholesterol, which your body uses to battle the buildup of arterial plaque.

Alcohol Consumption

As per studies, alcohol raises triglycerides in the body since it is high in calories and sugar. In addition, extensive alcohol intake can increase VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) production, increase the flow of free fatty acids from adipose tissue to the liver, and impair the body’s capacity to break down fat.

Therefore, overindulging in alcohol is associated with alcoholic fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, and cardiovascular disease, in addition to increasing blood triglyceride levels.

These are a few reasons why the triglyceride level can be high without impacting the cholesterol level

How are Triglyceride Levels Determined?

To determine triglyceride levels, one should have fasted for 9 to 14 hours (only water intake is allowed). Abstain from alcohol for 24 hours before the test.

Blood is generally drawn from a vein in the back of your hand or the front of your elbow. One can run this test also on a portable device. For example, as part of a lipid panel, the device takes a tiny blood sample from a finger poke and examines your triglycerides. 

Nowadays, a portable device is available to check your triglycerides at home. In addition, one can use a kit to mail the blood sample to a lab to help monitor your triglycerides at home. To know more about home tests/kits, speak with your doctor.

With ageing, high triglyceride levels become more problematic. Your healthcare professional can suggest more frequent testing as the risk increases.

In addition, you might require more frequent testing if you have diabetes, a family history of high cholesterol, or other risk factors for heart disease. Women and men need annual exams from the ages of 55 to 65. Children also require tests for triglycerides and cholesterol. Typically, a child gets checked between the ages of 9 and 11 and again in their early 20s (between 17 and 21).

What are the risks of a high triglyceride level?

High triglycerides can lead to arteriosclerosis, which raises the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease by thickening the arterial walls. Acute pancreatic inflammation can also happen due to elevated triglycerides (pancreatitis).

The chance of heart disease and stroke increases by obesity and metabolic syndrome. Excess body fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels characterise it.

Triglyceride levels that are too high can indicate:

  • Diabetes type 2 or prediabetes
  • When high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood sugar all exist, it is known as metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk of heart disease.
  • low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism)
  • Some unusual genetic disorders impact how your body uses fat for energy.

Treatments 

A healthcare expert suggests lifestyle modifications as the first defence against high cholesterol. These modifications can involve:

  • lowering or eliminating trans and saturated fats
  • eating more healthy and adhering to a diet rich in oily salmon, brown grains, and fruits and vegetables
  • Moderately exercising for at least 150 minutes to lose weight
  • reducing alcohol consumption and giving up smoking or vaping

To control cholesterol levels, you may require medication. Thus, many medical professionals may advise a mix of medicine and lifestyle modifications. The drugs used to treat high cholesterol include:

Statins

A class of medications known as statins prevents the liver from manufacturing LDL cholesterol. They are used once daily orally and come in the form of pills. Some statins may need to be taken by people at specific times of the day.

Fluvastatin (Lescol), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and pravastatin are examples of statins that get prescribed. During treatment, a doctor might have to modify the dosage of the drug.

In addition, doctors might recommend fibrates in addition to statins and cholesterol-lowering medications. Fibrates work to lower triglyceride levels and raise blood levels of good cholesterol.

Supplements

The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids lowers cholesterol. They are in plant oils and fatty foods like salmon. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be taken regularly by people with elevated cholesterol.

Niacin is a type of vitamin B that helps decrease triglycerides and raise good cholesterol. One must only take Niacin for high cholesterol under a doctor’s supervision.

Cholesterol Blockers

Inhibitors of cholesterol absorption decrease cholesterol by preventing the body from absorbing cholesterol. They may be prescribed by a doctor alone or in conjunction with statins. One such drug is ezetimibe (Ezetrol).

Monitor and Manage Your Triglyceride Levels with HealthifyMe

Monitoring cholesterol levels and general health has become challenging and time-consuming due to today’s fast-paced lifestyle and rigorous work schedule.

Signing up for any premium HealthifyMe plan that fits your lifestyle can be a smart, practical, and healthy decision. Depending on your cholesterol level and other metabolic markers, HealthifyMe can help you better understand your healthcare alternatives. A food and calorie tracker, exercise instructions, hydration, sleep, BMI, and weight trackers are all included in the HealthifyMe app.

In addition, equipment-free at-home training videos are available for both genders, making getting in shape and losing weight enjoyable and simple.

Mobile users of iOS and Android can access HealthifyMe. In addition, you can select your health and fitness coach to assist you in bringing your cholesterol levels back to normal after downloading the app and subscribing to a plan.

To choose the ideal HealthifyMe premium plan, you can plug in your body type, blood cholesterol, lifestyle, weight, and medical history.

The HealthifyMe Note

When cholesterol gets tested, triglycerides are also measured. Also, your body needs a specific form of blood fat called triglyceride to produce energy. However, high triglyceride levels can contribute to heart problems in addition to low HDL or high LDL cholesterol. Additionally, if you eat too many meals high in triglycerides, you are more prone to acquire diabetes. 

Your lipid profile is a window to your heart condition. You can take action to lower your cholesterol if it is high. You can develop a personalised plan with your doctor to lower your risks. It might reduce your chance of experiencing cardiac issues in the future.

Conclusion

Triglyceride levels that are too high can result from consuming too many calories. The good news is that lowering your triglyceride levels is totally in your hand. Moreover, your health coach will make critical recommendations for heart-healthy lifestyle changes.

Medication is also necessary. Take medicine as directed if your doctor has given it to lower triglycerides. Medications can be helpful, but don’t ignore incorporating healthy lifestyle changes.

For example, incorporating small meals and healthy food choices consisting of complex carbs, protein, soluble fibre, and good fat can help you lower triglyceride levels naturally.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!


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