Triglycerides and Cholesterol for Heart Health – A Complete Guide

Reviewed by: | Author: Manoja Kalakanti

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.

What is Cholesterol and Triglycerides?

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 – Key Similarities

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.

Triglycerides and Cholesterol – Primary Differences

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.

High Cholesterol and Triglycerides – Causes and Symptoms

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:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lupus

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:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Unmanaged diabetes
  • A diet high in sugar, saturated fat and simple carbohydrates
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Medications like diuretics, hormones, corticosteroids, beta blockers and some HIV medications
  • A body mass index (BMI) greater than 25
  • Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking
  • Thyroid disease
  • Lack of physical activity

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:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Heart failure
  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Increased risk of coronary artery disease
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease

There are four triglycerides levels to consider:

  • Normal: lower than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline: 151–199 mg/dL
  • High: over 200 mg/dL
  • Very high: over 500 mg/dL

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.

Tips to Control Triglycerides and Cholesterol

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.

Tips to Reduce Triglycerides

  • Limit Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol consumption can spike triglyceride levels. Consider cutting down to once or twice a month.
  • Reduce Carbs Intake: Lowering carbohydrate consumption, especially from high-carb and sugary foods, reduces the likelihood of consuming excessive calories, which can elevate triglycerides.
  • Increase Physical Activities: Elevating physical activity assists in the body’s utilization of surplus calories.
  • Choose High Fiber and Whole Grain Foods: Opting for high-fiber and whole-grain foods promotes satiety and supports heart health.
  • Switch to Healthy Fats: Opting for healthier fat sources, like olive oil and avocados, contributes to overall well-being.

Tips to Reduce Cholesterol

  • Quit Smoking: Smoking is associated with high cholesterol levels. Quit tobacco consumption today.
  • Maintain a Moderate Body Weight: Maintaining a moderate body weight is crucial as obesity is correlated with elevated cholesterol.
  • Choose Low-Cholesterol Food: Opting for low-cholesterol foods like lean meats, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy can help.
  • Switch to Fruits and Vegetables: Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet supports heart health and aids in reducing cholesterol levels.

Navigating the Ideal Diet Plan to Control Cholesterol and Triglycerides

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.

Seven Food Items to Avoid with High Triglycerides

The following list will give you a clear idea of how to plan your diet when struggling with high triglycerides:

Starchy Vegetables

Control starchy food intakes like corn and peas to prevent excess starch from converting into triglycerides. Opt for alternatives like cauliflower, kale, and mushrooms.

Baked Beans with Sugar or Pork

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.

Too Many Fruits Can Spoil Your Health

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.

Canned Fish Packed in Oil

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.

Starchy Foods

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.

Seven Food Items to Avoid with High Cholesterol

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.

Fried Food

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.

Fast Food

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.

Processed Meat

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.

List of Foods to Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides

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.

Foods to Lower Cholesterol

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:

  • Soy
  • Citrus Fruits and Berries
  • Eggplant and Okra
  • Fatty Fish
  • Fiber Supplements

Foods to Lower Triglycerides

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:

  • 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

A Complete Diet Plan for High Cholesterol and 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:

(diet chart)

The Final Takeaway

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.


How to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides?

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

How to lower cholesterol and triglycerides?

Maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle, with minimal intake of alcohol, saturated fat, and sugar, can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

How to calculate hdl from total 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.

How do I lower my cholesterol and triglycerides?

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

How to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels naturally?

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
Exercise regularly
Limit trans fats
Aim to eat fatty fish twice weekly

How to reduce VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides?

There are a few natural ways to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides:
Opt for healthier fats
Avoid alcohol
Exercise daily
Increase soluble fiber
Avoid excess sugar

What to eat if you have high cholesterol and triglycerides?

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

Can high cholesterol and triglycerides cause fatigue?

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.

How to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides home remedies?

A few home remedies to control triglycerides and cholesterol levels include:
Weight management
Avoid trans fat
Choose soluble fiber
Add fatty fish to your diet
Eliminate alcohol

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