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6 ways to reduce your triglycerides

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Dietary changesFoodsSupplementsExerciseLifestyle factorsMedicationsSummary
High triglycerides can be a hidden risk, but diet, supplements, exercise, and other lifestyle choices may help reduce triglycerides and protect your heart health.
Medically reviewed by Amy Richter, RD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. They consist of a combination of glycerol and three fatty acids. These fats are an important energy source for the body and serve as a fat storage form.

When you eat food, your body converts the excess calories into triglycerides, which your fat cells will store. Later, when your body needs energy, it breaks down the triglycerides and releases the fatty acids into the bloodstream for fuel.

But high triglyceride levels in the blood can contribute to plaque formation in the arteries, narrowing them and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The good news is that there are many ways to lower your triglyceride levels and improve your overall health. 

1. Make dietary changes 

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Diet may play an important role in regulating triglyceride levels. A 2017 study shows that a Mediterranean diet can effectively reduce triglyceride levels since it is rich in healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

A 2020 review showed a link between consuming sugary drinks and having higher levels of triglyceride levels in the blood. Other research suggests that following a low carbohydrate diet, which could involve avoiding sugary drinks, may reduce triglycerides and other factors linked to cardiovascular risk.

Finally, increasing fiber intake by eating more fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may reduce triglycerides. Still, while research has found evidence that fiber may improve cardiovascular risk factors, there are mixed results concerning the effect on triglycerides.

You may also want to try the DASH diet which, like the Mediterranean diet, emphasizes fresh, plant-based foods, rather than processed foods.

2. Eat specific foods 

Some studies suggest that eating certain foods may reduce triglycerides. 

In one 2016 study, eating salmon twice a week significantly reduced triglyceride levels. 

Incorporating nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pecans into your diet may reduce your triglycerides since they are high in healthy fats and fiber.

Adding legumes such as lentils and chickpeas into your diet, as well as whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, may reduce triglycerides. 

3. Take supplements 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), omega-3 supplements may reduce triglyceride levels, especially in people with high triglycerides. 

Niacin (vitamin B3) supplements appear to reduce triglycerides, and doctors sometimes recommend them.

4. Exercise 

Research has shown that regular physical activity may help reduce triglyceride levels.

The AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily, 5 days per week for a healthy adult.

Some exercise types to try include brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

5. Lifestyle factors 

Chronic stress may lead to increased inflammation and may contribute to high triglyceride levels. Practicing stress-reducing activities such as meditation and yoga may help lower triglycerides.

Lack of sleep may also contribute to high triglyceride levels. Consider aiming for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help lower triglycerides.

People who have overweight are at a higher risk of having increased triglycerides. Managing your weight through diet and exercise may help reduce triglycerides and improve overall health.

A high alcohol intake may raise triglycerides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Quitting smoking can help reduce triglycerides since smoking may increase triglycerides and increase heart disease risk.

By using these lifestyle measures, you may reduce your triglycerides. But consider talking with a healthcare professional about any changes you plan to make to ensure they are safe and appropriate for you.

6. Medical treatment

A doctor may prescribe medication to lower triglycerides while also addressing high cholesterol levels.

Fibrates, such as fenofibrate (Tricor) lower triglyceride production in the liver and may help remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream, leading to higher levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

People can take niacin supplements as a home remedy for triglycerides, but a doctor may also prescribe niacin or nicotinic acid, for instance, Niacor. This medication may help reduce levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.

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Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. High triglyceride levels can have a negative health impact and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. But there are many ways to reduce triglycerides and improve overall health. 

These strategies include making dietary changes, incorporating regular exercise, managing stress, and getting enough sleep, which may help reduce triglycerides.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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