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We Are What We Eat

Por Ana C. López, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -
We Are What We Eat

Although it may seem surprising, blood triglyceride levels are not only affected by the amount of fat you eat in foods but also by excess portions. Consuming more calories than what your body needs, whether in the form of fats or carbohydrates, (especially simple sugars), can contribute to elevated triglyceride levels.

Let's start off by explaining what triglycerides are. Triglycerides are fats but they do not come from fats found in foods alone. Any excess nutrient the body that isn't used for energy is stored in the form of triglycerides. In other words, that "spare tire" you can pinch around your waist is basically an accumulation of triglycerides.

Even though this reserve of energy in the form of triglycerides is important for our body, this excess fat circulating through the blood presents a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. That's why it's necessary to keep triglyceride levels within normal limits, and if they are already high, it is important to take the necessary measures to lower them.

The laboratory test known as a lipid profileis used to measure the amount of triglycerides. Currently, these are the values used to interpret blood triglyceride levels:


Slightly high


Very high

< 150 mg/dL

From 150 to 200 mg/dL

Between 200 and 499 mg/dL

≥ 500 mg/dL

Unless your doctor advises otherwise, usually the first step to take to lower your triglyceride level is making changes to your lifestyle. This means: an appropriate eating plan and exercise routine.

Below are some tips to keep in mind if you have high triglyceride levels.

Avoid this:

Substitute for:

Regular sodas, sweetened juices or soft drinks, alcoholic beverages

Sugar free sodas ("diet"), beverages with artificial sweeteners and no alcohol.

Sweets, candy and chocolates

Diet sweets, candy and chocolates

Jell-O or pudding

Diet Jell-O or pudding

Cookies with marshmallows or sweetened creams

Whole-grain crackers

Fried foods

Baked, grilled or steamed foods

Lard, butter, coconut or palm oil

Margarine (0 trans fat), canola vegetable oil, olive oil or sunflower seed oil

Snacks high in sugar and fat (cakes, cookies and other desserts)

Fresh fruits, low-calorie snacks

Whole milk

Skim (0%) or low-fat milk (1 or 2 %)

Bacon, pork rinds, chorizo

Low-fat meats, specially chicken or turkey

The key is to choose the right foods and to eat serving sizes that suit your needs. If you're overweight, reaching a healthy weight is an excellent first step.


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