Your body stores the fats you eat by attaching them to a sugar molecule -- a package called a triglyceride. Triglycerides serve crucial purposes in your body, including contributing to the structure of cell membranes and providing thermal insulation and energy. But when your blood levels become too high, you're at increased risk for heart disease. Being overweight, lack of exercise and a poor diet that is too high in fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol all contribute to elevated triglyceride levels. Speak to your doctor about making lifestyle changes to lower your triglycerides.
Fatty meats, french fries, fried chicken, full-fat dairy products, butter, lard and pizza are just a few of the foods that can raise your triglycerides. These foods are rich in saturated and trans fats, which also raise your cholesterol, another type of fat in your blood. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products but also in coconut and palm oils; trans fats are also found naturally in animal products and are man-made by hydrogenating vegetable oils to make them more solid at room temperature. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to no more than 7 percent of calories and reducing trans fats to no more than 1 percent of calories.
Cakes, cookies, candy, soda, pastries and fruit juices are all high in sugar, which can cause your triglycerides to skyrocket. Some of these foods also contain refined grains, such as white flour. White bread, white pasta and white rice are other examples of refined grains. During processing, refined grains are stripped of most of their fiber, which allows them to be metabolized very quickly in your body, and they raise your blood sugar and insulin levels. Higher insulin levels after a meal can result in higher triglycerides. Some of these foods also contain saturated fats, for a double triglyceride-raising whammy.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to high triglycerides, and some medical conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and kidney disease, can also lead to elevated blood levels. Being overweight is another major risk factor, as is living a sedentary lifestyle. Drinking alcohol is another strong contributor, and the type of alcohol -- beer, wine or spirits -- doesn't make a difference. People who are more sensitive to the effects are particularly at risk, according to the University of Massachusetts website.
Triglycerides are usually easily lowered by making lifestyle and dietary changes, reports MayoClinic.org. Reduce your saturated fat intake as much as possible and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Choose lean meats such as skinless white meat chicken and fish, as well as vegetarian protein sources like beans and tofu. Reduce or eliminate sweets in your diet, and choose whole grains like whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-wheat bread over refined-grain products. You should also reduce or eliminate alcohol, especially if you are sensitive. These changes alone will go a long way toward helping you reduce your weight, but you should also make sure to get regular cardiovascular exercise -- at least 30 minutes most days of the week.