The best advice to lower both triglycerides and cholesterol is to eat whole natural foods, exercise as much as you can and take supplements to help out. Make sure you see a physician to monitor your success!
We've all heard about the dangers of high cholesterol - and while it is true that high cholesterol numbers can indicate a higher risk for heart disease, a few things should be mentioned about cholesterol:
- Cholesterol is a part of every cell in our body-it is what helps keep our cells "flexible" and allows cells to transport substances in and out.
- Cholesterol is made mostly in the liver, but is also made throughout the body.
- Your body tries to regulate the amount of cholesterol by reducing synthesis if there is more cholesterol in the food you eat-the opposite is true, as well-if you limit your dietary cholesterol, your body may increase the amount of cholesterol it synthesizes.
- Plant "phytosterols" such as beta sitosterol slow down cholesterol absorption and recycling.
- For years, people have talked about lowering cholesterol naturally, but other substances, the triglycerides are turning out to be very important as well and recent studies have shown that simply reducing the polyunsaturated fats we eat is not really enough to lower triglycerides. We also need to limit the amount of processed carbohydrates we eat. The reason is that processed carbohydrates (boxed or prepared "instant" foods, mainly) have a high glycemic index and release loads of simple sugars into our blood after we eat them. The sugars then trigger the increase in blood triglycerides
Diet - Powerful Way number 1So, what are some guidelines for a diet to reduce triglycerides?
- Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates - high fiber foods such as raw or lightly steamed vegetables, high fiber whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and dairy products.
- Reduce animal fats and increase vegetable fats
- Stick to foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Try to stick with foods that are less than 54 on the GI scale-some examples of these are vegetables such as peas, carrots and beets (beets, by the way are GREAT for your liver-and that also helps lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels). Other low GI foods are multigrain breads, fruits such as apples and grapes and meats such a poultry.
- Minimize or eliminate soft drinks-they are filled with sugars (and phosphates, but that's another story...)
- Increase high protein foods.
- Eat more fish - fish have high amounts of EPA and DHA – the omega -3 oils that have been shown to be helpful in reducing triglycerides and cholesterol.
Exercise -Powerful Way number 2The more you exercise-and it can be simply taking more walks - the more effective the dietary modifications listed can help. It can be tough to take some time out in a busy day to do that extra walking, running or whatever fits best into your life-believe me, I know! But if you can increase the amount of exercise or just plain physical movement you do, it will help tremendously-and not only with lowering your triglycerides, but in helping you rest, relax, think, concentrate and sleep better. Somedays, I simply make more trips up and down the stairs than I really have to. Other days, I park my car at the far end of the lot. Whatever increases your physical activity will help.
Supplements- Powerful Way number 3
- Fish oil: As a physician, I always try to treat each patient as an individual. But, I have found that nearly every patient who comes in to see me would benefit by taking fish oil. Here in the Pacific NW, we have access to a lot of fresh fish, but some people find it too expensive and others don't really like fish. So, while I would prefer that everyone eat more fish, fish oil supplements can provide that "extra".
Read More: Do Bad Habits Drive Up Your Triglycerides?
- Vitamin B3 or niacin. The most common side effect is a sort of facial flushing that can be avoided by getting the flush-free form of niacin.
- Soluble fiber - this can be in the form of psyllium powder. It has the added benefit of preventing constipation.
- Plant sterols (phytosterols) such as beta sitosterol and sitostanol not only lower cholesterol, but lower the triglycerides as well.
- Herbs such as garlic, artichoke, green tea, ginger, guggulipid, turmeric (curcumin) and olive leaves. You can get these as herbal supplements - but you can always add more garlic, turmeric and ginger to foods! You can always drink more green tea and have more artichoke too!