Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and are an important measure of heart health. Eating more calories than you burn on a regular basis can lead to high triglycerides.
Triglycerides are checked as part of a routine blood test known as a lipid panel, which also checks your cholesterol levels. For most accurate results, you should fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
Acceptable triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL. Readings between 150 and 199 are considered borderline, while 200 to 499 mg/dL are considered high. Over 500 mg/dL is considered very high.
What High Levels Mean
High triglycerides are usually the result of low physical activity, being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or habitually eating a diet that is very high in carbohydrates. They can also be caused by genetics or underlying disease.
Levels over 150 mg/dL are considered a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions which include low HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and too much fat around the waist. Metabolic syndrome can lead to heart disease and other disorders, such as diabetes.
Lowering Triglyceride Levels
Making healthy lifestyle choices can lower triglycerides. Cut back on calories, eliminate trans fat and reduce excess pounds. It is important to stop smoking and exercise regularly. An omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as fish oil may help to lower your levels. If you are not able to bring high levels down, or if your levels are very high, your doctor may recommend medication.