The human heart is the most powerful organ and can also be considered the kernel of the human machine. Keeping its health intact is literally non-negotiable. Unfortunately, modern lifestyle and rapid urbanization have resulted in their gradual wearing and tearing. It is no longer uncommon to hear about people dying at a tender age due to heart failure. Therefore, preventing heart ailments from catching up sooner is possible if you are aware of the types and their causes before practicing remediation. Triglycerides and cholesterol are two critical components one should be mindful of. Both are essential markers for human heart health. A slight disbalance in their expected levels might prove dangerous, if not fatal, for humans.
This blog will tell you everything you need to know about high cholesterol and triglycerides, their causes and symptoms, how to prevent them from spiking up, and many more.
Triglycerides, a blood fat, serve as energy. Cholesterol, a waxy substance from the liver, builds cells and aids vitamin production. Both require careful monitoring to keep their levels within a recommended range to prevent health disorders in the future.
That being said, let’s explore the points of similarities and differences existing between the two.
Triglycerides and cholesterol, both lipid types, flow through your bloodstream and serve distinct purposes.
Cholesterol, sourced from both your diet and blood, aids in cell construction and hormone synthesis. It’s primarily produced in the liver, essential for digesting food and absorbing fat. However, an accumulation of excessive cholesterol within arteries forms plaque.
Triglycerides, present in your body and dietary intake, act as storage units for surplus calories. When unused calories arise from meals, they convert into triglycerides for future energy use. Most reside in fat cells under the skin, while some travel around vital organs. Elevated levels of triglycerides can cause thickening or hardening of artery walls.
The body requires both cholesterol and triglycerides for daily functions, yet elevated levels of either can present substantial health risks.
Studies have proven that elevated triglyceride levels were linked to increased all-cause mortality, although further investigation is required to pinpoint the exact causes. However, it’s established that high triglycerides elevate the risk of stroke, pancreas inflammation, and other severe health issues.
Elevated cholesterol levels can accumulate in arteries, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. This narrowing restricts blood flow, potentially leading to heart attacks and strokes. Some studies have revealed that elevated cholesterol levels in early life correlated with a heightened risk of cardiac-related death, even among individuals with no other cardiac risk factors.
Cholesterol travels in your bloodstream by bonding with proteins, forming what’s known as a lipoprotein. These lipoproteins differ based on the content they carry:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often termed the “bad” cholesterol, ferries cholesterol particles throughout your body. Accumulation of LDL cholesterol in artery walls contributes to their hardening and narrowing.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), recognized as the “good” cholesterol, collects surplus cholesterol and transports it back to the liver for processing.
A lipid profile usually includes triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Elevated triglyceride levels also heighten the risk of heart disease.
Controllable factors like inactivity, obesity, and an unhealthy diet contribute to adverse cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Additionally, factors beyond your control, like genetic predispositions, can hinder your body’s ability to eliminate LDL cholesterol or metabolize it in the liver.
Various medical conditions can also lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels, including:
Moreover, certain medications taken for other health issues, such as those for acne, cancer, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, irregular heart rhythms, or organ transplants, can exacerbate cholesterol levels.
Contrarily, factors responsible for inducing high levels of triglycerides include:
Some of the above-mentioned causes of high cholesterol and triglycerides are avoidable if careful measures are taken. This means both cholesterol and triglycerides are preventable but are non-curable ailments. Therefore, the timely monitoring of their respective levels is paramount to prevent severe symptoms such as:
There are four triglycerides levels to consider:
Consult a doctor to determine your level and take measures immediately. Likewise, a cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is normal. Anything beyond this would impact your body negatively.
Hence, the suggestion is repeated: keep monitoring the levels and take necessary precautions to keep them under check.
How to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides? The answer is – consult a physician. But before your condition requires immediate expert attention, here are a few tips to follow and address the problem by yourself.
Our diet directly influences cholesterol levels and can mitigate disease risks. However, for a heart-healthy eating routine, emphasizing diverse, fresh, unprocessed foods while restricting highly processed options like takeaways, baked goods, chocolate, chips, candies, and sugary beverages are strongly recommended. This approach not only sustains a vibrant and wholesome diet but also delivers vital nutrients to the body.
A well-planned healthy diet for high cholesterol and triglycerides can help tremendously. And that entails a complete understanding of the type of foods to opt for and the ones you need to avoid.
The following list will give you a clear idea of how to plan your diet when struggling with high triglycerides:
Control starchy food intakes like corn and peas to prevent excess starch from converting into triglycerides. Opt for alternatives like cauliflower, kale, and mushrooms.
Beans offer fiber and nutrients. But baked beans with added sugar or pork can be problematic if you have high triglycerides. Check labels for sugar and fat content. Black beans offer fiber, protein, and no saturated fats or sugar.
There’s no pun intended, but too much of anything can be harmful. Fruits are healthy replacements for sugary desserts. But with high triglycerides, limiting the intake to 2-3 fruits/day is essential to manage natural sugars. Also, keep dried fruit portions smaller.
Alcohol is often considered heart-friendly. However, excess consumption can elevate triglycerides due to inherent sugars in wine, beer, or liquor. Excessive sugar poses risks.
Fish is generally good for health, but canned fish in oil may not. So, opt for canned fish in water, not oil, for heart health. Check labels, as both options are often found together on shelves.
Coconut is in vogue, offering numerous healthy products like milk, water, oil, flakes, and fruit. While touted for health, it’s high in saturated fats. Consult your doctor for guidance on consumption.
Overindulgence in pasta, potatoes, or cereals can harm your health as they convert to triglycerides. Stick to proper portions: a slice of bread, specific measurements for rice, pasta, potatoes, or oatmeal.
Some high-cholesterol foods are actually nutritious and benefit your health. But a few others might harm your body. So, limit or avoid the following items to manage cholesterol intake wisely.
Avoid high-cholesterol fried foods like deep-fried meats and cheese sticks. They are calorie-dense, possibly containing heart-risky trans fats. Excessive intake links to heart disease.
Regularly consuming fast food significantly raises the risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s linked to elevated cholesterol, increased belly fat, inflammation, high blood pressure, and disrupted blood sugar control.
Limit high-cholesterol processed meats like sausages, bacon, and hot dogs in your diet. A substantial review linked every extra 2-oz (50-g) serving to a 42% increased risk of heart disease in over 614,000 participants.
Sweets like cookies, cakes, ice cream, and pastries are often rich in cholesterol, added sugars, unhealthy fats, and calories. Studies link high added sugar intake to various health risks like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental decline, and certain cancers. Moreover, these foods lack essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats crucial for optimal health.
One slice (22 g) of Swiss cheese offers about 20 mg of cholesterol and is rich in calcium and other nutrients. Consuming 3 ounces (80 g) of full-fat cheese daily is considered high intake but rarely elevates LDL cholesterol compared to low-fat cheese or an equivalent calorie intake from bread and jam.
Eggs offer exceptional nutrition, especially as a protein source, yet contain high cholesterol—1 large egg (50g) has 207 mg. Studies indicate eggs may not raise cholesterol and could enhance heart-protective HDL (“good”) cholesterol. However, some other researches hint at a potential rise in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol with increased egg intake, but consuming 1–2 eggs daily is generally safe for most healthy individuals.
Shellfish like clams, crab, and shrimp offer rich protein, B vitamins, iron, and selenium. A 3-oz (85-g) serving of canned shrimp contains 214 mg of cholesterol. Yet, studies suggest increased seafood consumption may enhance cognitive, visual, and cardiovascular health.
Follow the list mentioned above of foods to avoid high cholesterol and triglycerides levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Adjusting your diet can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and enhance the array of fats circulating in your bloodstream. Adding foods that lower cholesterol and triglycerides by combatting the harmful cholesterol-carrying particles responsible for artery-clogging atherosclerosis is the best way to achieve a nutritional diet.
Follow the below-mentioned list and keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels within acceptable limits.
Oats: Break your morning fast with a bowl of oatmeal or Cheerios that will provide 1-2 grams of soluble fiber. Aim for 20-35 grams of daily fiber, with 5-10 grams of soluble fiber, often below the average intake. You can add fruits for extra nutrients.
Whole Grains and Barley: Barley and whole grains aid in reducing heart disease risk, primarily due to the soluble fiber content they provide.
Beans: Soluble fiber-rich beans offer prolonged satiety, aiding weight loss. Varied options like navy, kidney, lentils, and preparation methods make beans versatile.
Nuts: Studies endorse heart benefits from almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and 2 ounces daily slightly reduces LDL by around 5%. Nutrients further shield the heart.
Sterols and Stanols: Plant-derived sterols and stanols hinder cholesterol absorption. When added to various foods like margarine, granola bars, and supplements, they can reduce LDL by 10%.
The other food options are:
A balanced diet, including whole fruits, veggies, and grains, aid in controlling cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time, prioritize sustained lifestyle changes over singular food focus for extended benefits.
As an example, the following list of foods assist in managing triglycerides:
It is always helpful if you plan a diet with expert guidance. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels are truly silent killers; hence, focusing on what you put inside your body is pivotal for a sustainable, long, and healthy life. So, make no mistakes while deciding your daily diet and resort to expert opinion when needed.
The following is an example of a balanced diet chart put together with experts’ suggestions that might help you get started on your health journey:
Triglycerides, a blood lipid, can be reduced through low-carb, high-fiber diets featuring oily fish. In order to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels, limit added sugar, alcohol, and carbs to 50–60% of daily calories and saturated/trans fats. Additionally, include exercise and selected supplements in your regime to keep the two under check.
You can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by following a few helpful tips
Limit Alcohol Intake
Choose Healthier Fats
Opt for Fiber Supplements
Avoid Excess Sugar
Maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle, with minimal intake of alcohol, saturated fat, and sugar, can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
Calculate the total cholesterol HDL ratio by dividing the total cholesterol by HDL level. A higher ratio signals increased heart disease risk.
Certain food items can help lower your cholesterol and triglycerides levels, such as:
Oily fish like salmon and sardines
Veggies, especially leafy greens and butternut squash
Fruits, particularly citrus and berries
Low-fat dairy like yogurt and cheese
High-fiber whole grains: quinoa, barley, brown rice
Beans, nuts, and seeds with fiber and healthy fats
You can lower your both cholesterol and triglyceride levels naturally through dietary and lifestyle changes, such as:
Aim for a healthy-for-you weight
Limit your sugar intake
Follow a lower-carb diet
Eat more fiber
Limit trans fats
Aim to eat fatty fish twice weekly
There are a few natural ways to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides:
Opt for healthier fats
Increase soluble fiber
Avoid excess sugar
A few food sources can help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels naturally, such as:
Vegetables, Fruits, and Whole Grains
Healthy Protein-Rich Foods and Legumes
Healthy Fats and Oils
Herbs and Spices
Milk, Yoghurt, and Non-Processed Cheese
Some symptoms of high blood cholesterol and triglycerides may come out in the form of heart diseases like chest pain (angina) or nausea and fatigue.
A few home remedies to control triglycerides and cholesterol levels include:
Avoid trans fat
Choose soluble fiber
Add fatty fish to your diet