When you have a health checkup, cholesterol levels are definitely on the list to ensure that your lipid profile is at target levels. High triglyceride levels put you at risk for a number of serious health issues. The lipid profile measures the fat in your blood, and there are three types to check. The LDL or bad cholesterol, the HDL or good cholesterol and triglycerides.
Ideally, total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, HDL should be 60 mg/dL or more and triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL. A deviation from these readings leads to the build up of unhealthy cholesterol levels resulting in blocked arteries, putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Triglycerides are a crucial source of energy in the body, but high triglyceride levels are risky for heart health. This leads to a condition called metabolic syndrome characterized by low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, belly fat and high blood sugar, increasing increases the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The good news? There are many ways to bring high triglyceride levels back to healthy levels by following healthy diet choices and avoiding certain foods.
Here are 12 foods to avoid for high triglyceride levels
Yes, vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, but there are some vegetables that are better than others, especially when you’re tracking your triglycerides, like starchy foods. Eating less of these can help. Limit starchy foods like corn and peas so that your body does not turn the extra starch into triglycerides. Instead, go for cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, etc.
Canned Baked Beans
Beans are chock full of nutrients and fiber but if you’re buying a can of baked beans made with sugar or added fats, that’s not your best choice. Read the label to know what is in the list of ingredients, especially how much sugar and fat. Be safe by switching to black beans, a great source of protein and fiber but without the added sugar and saturated fats.
Shocking, right? Fruits are healthy and are a great substitute for a rich creamy dessert or a snack. But with high triglyceride levels, it is better to limit yourself to just 2-3 pieces of fruit per day to avoid the natural sugars in the fruit. The same goes for dried fruit where the concentration of sugar is higher. Try and avoid.
In moderation, alcohol is usually okay but too much can result in high triglyceride levels. The natural sugars in the wine, beer or liquor are the culprits. Too much sugar, no matter what the source is, can have a negative effect on triglyceride levels. If you’re struggling to lower them, you are better off completely avoiding them.
Fish is good for the heart but if you are buying canned fish, study the label to check if it is packed in oil. Opt for canned fish packed in water.
Coconut is very much in the news as a super food. The health benefits of coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil, coconut flakes etc. are be praised. But coconut is also high in saturated fats, so check with your doctor if it is okay for you to consume it or whether you should cut it out of your diet, at least until your cholesterol levels are under control.
If you are a fan of starchy foods like pasta, bread, potatoes, rice or cereals, remember that your body converts these into triglycerides. Rather than remove them from your diet, ensure proper serving sizes. Portion control is key. Avoid foods made from refined flour.
You could be drinking your sugar! For example, sweet iced tea, soda, fruit juice, or a syrupy packaged drink could be your undoing. Bottled drinks are very high in sugar. So when you cut back on sugar, remember to eliminate packaged drinks as that sugar can be converted into triglycerides.
Honey or Maple Syrup
There’s a common misconception that while you should avoid sugar, honey or maple syrup are healthier options as they are natural compared to refined sugar. But just like sugar, they are also capable or raising your triglycerides. When you are trying to lower your TG levels, it is best to avoid all sugary sweeteners even if they’re natural sugars.
High triglyceride levels call for avoiding saturated fats. This includes baked goods that use butter or trans fats in the baking process. Always read the nutrition label to check for ingredients you are not familiar with. If you don’t understand the label, best leave the product alone!
While you need not give up meat entirely, keep in mind that it is better to pick lean cuts. Do not even go near processed meats, which includes bacon, sausages, ham, etc. There is growing evidence that processed meat can increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Butter or Margarine
If you use butter and margarine in your cooking, substitute it for a healthier cooking oil like olive oil especially while cooking meats and vegetables or even for salad dressing. Butter and margarine have too much saturated fat or trans fat and this can clog the arteries.
Keeping cholesterol at healthy levels can be as easy as eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugary foods and getting regular exercise. Even if your cholesterol and triglycerides are borderline high, you can correct it with exercise and a healthy diet. It only takes some discipline and commitment—and some will power. Isn’t it worth it, considering that it will lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes?