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Lower triglycerides naturally and easily

Updated on June 18, 2012

Getting started

What are triglycerides? They are fats with a structure consisting of three fatty acids that are bound to a glycerol molecule with a covalent bond.

The level of triglycerides in your blood can be elevated for a number of reasons--aging, obesity, diabetes and other endocrinologic disorders, eating too many calories, certain medications, and drinking too much alcohol. Genetic causes account for a small percentage of cases of high triglyceride levels, known as hypertriglyceridemia.

Hypertriglyceridemia usually appears in combination with other changes in the serum. In the Frederickson Classification of Hyperlipoproteinemia, four out of six disorders are associated with elevated levels of triglycerides and cholesterol and one out of six, type IV, is associated only with elevated levels of triglycerides.

The diagnosis is usually made on blood that is obtained after a 10 to 12 hour fast, and for this reason, your blood will usually be drawn in the morning before you have had breakfast or anything to drink except for water(just think what coffee with milk or cream would do to your lipid levels) . This lab test is called a fasting lipid panel and usually examines total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL--the "good" lipid) in addition to triglycerides The reference value for normal serum triglyceride levels is <150 mg/dL; when levels are greater 1000 mg/dL, the individual is at increased risk for pancreatitis.

If you are diagnosed with hypertriglyceridemia which is not due to a genetic cause, work with your physician to lower your triglycerides naturally by losing weight, eating fewer calories and drinking less.


Koyaanis Qatsi photo
Koyaanis Qatsi photo | Source

Change your diet

How can you lower your triglycerides naturally?

You can work with a dietician or nutritionist to look at what you are eating and drinking. If your diet is high in sugar and white flour products, low in fish and if you drink fruit juice and soda, both of which can contain large quantities of sugar, you might want to make some changes.

Why not just go on a very low fat diet? It makes sense that a high fat diet can lead to hypertriglyceridem, but it turns out that a very low fat diet can also spur higher levels of triglycerides, which just doesn't seem fair.

What are omega 3 fatty acids? They include eicosapentaenic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). To increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acides in your diet, you may be asked to increase your consumption of fatty coldwater fish or fish oil. In Italy, Di Minno et al reviewed the medical literature on omega 3 fatty acids and found that consuming them can lead to a 10-33% decrease in triglyceride levels, depending on what the baseline level was (Thromb Haemost. 2010 Aug 30;104(4). [Epub ahead of print] Exploring newer cardioprotective strategies: omega-3 fatty acids in perspective.).

You can also eat more flaxseed, which provides alpha linoleic acid (ALA), the precursor to EPA and DHA--all sources of omega 3 fatty acids. I like the use of nuts and flaxseed, especially ground flaxseed, because these are vegan sources which have a lower environmental impact and are readily available year round, and have both organic and conventional sources.

.Another way to reduce body weight and triglycerides is to eat more nuts. Sabate et al from the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University reviewed data from 25 nut consumption trial and found that consuming nuts benefited people with higher triglyceride levels, reducing triglyceride levels by 10.2 % in subjects with blood triglycerides levels of 150 mg/dl or above ( Arch Intern Med. 2010 May 10;170(9):821-7. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Sabate, Oda, Ros, Loma Linda University).

One kind of nuts you might want to consider eating more of are pistachios. That's right. In June 2010, Li et al from UCLA, reported that the body mass index and triglyceride levels were lower in subjects given pistachio nuts than those who consumed pretzels. The key is not to consume unlimited amounts of pistachios--so hang onto your portion control thought processes. (J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3):198-203. Pistachio nuts reduce triglycerides and body weight by comparison to refined carbohydrate snack in obese subjects on a 12-week weight loss program)

You can also consider substituting dried plums (around here, we call those prunes) for your low fat cookies. In September 2010, Howarth et al from San Diego State University studied how snack selection influenced triglycerides (J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1322-7. Snack selection influences nutrient intake, triglycerides, and bowel habits of adult women: a pilot study). They found that plasma triglyceride levels remained unchanged with dried plums, and with low fat cookies, triglyceride levels increased!

What about walnuts? Hmm. Not as good as I first had hoped. In 2009 Banel and Hu from Harvard published a meta-analysis (Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):56-63. Epub 2009 May 20.Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review) and found that, while a walnut-enriched diet was effective in decreasing total and LDL cholesterol, triglyercide levels were not significantly decreased.


Pistachio nuts

Exercise your way to lower triglycerides

Another approach is to increase the amount you exercise.  It's not only the exercise, but it may be the time of day that matters.  In an article written by Lynn Haley (Morning Exercise Lowers Triglycerides, DOC News 2006 3: 9) research done by Tracy Horton, PhD has shown that when people exercised for an hour in the morning by walking on a treadmill, their triglyceride levels were lower later in the day when compared with days in which the study subjects were sedentary.  I know it can be hard getting out first thing in the morning, but the advantage to putting your exercise first is that it gets done first! 

Is niacin right for you?

You could always consider trying niacin (vitamin B3), which has been successfully used to lower triglycerides as much as 40% in some people.  Immediate release niacin can produce an extremely unpleasant side effect known as niacin flush and sustained release can cause chemical hepatitis, so check with your health care provider to discuss which preparation of niacin is best for you.  Also, if you are seen in a medical setting, and you are taking niacin, make sure you mention this on your list of medications. 

Why do I keep emphasizing talking things over with your health care provider? By the time you have reached the point of having hypertriglyceridemia, you are also at risk for cardiovascular events. It may be that in developing your new prevention lifestyle that you need to look at more than this one small part of the picture of your overall health


Beautiful flaxseeds

Photo by Tyler.  User:Bdevel.
Photo by Tyler. User:Bdevel.


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    • BestMensSkinCare profile image


      6 years ago from California

      You may also want to note the FDA-approved drug called Vascepa that will be coming out early 2013. It lowers triglycerides while not raising bad cholorestorol levels.

      More info here:

    • profile image

      Brittany Gilbert 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the information. I just had my blood work come back and my high and last year they were 122. Sad thing is I just lost 20 lbs. This info is greatly appreciated.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • Sun-Girl profile image


      7 years ago from Nigeria


    • readabook profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      I really like this hub. My husband has high triglycerides and he has been doing some of the things your hub recommends and having success. I didn't know about pistachios and prunes. So thank you for the information.

    • readabook profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      I really like this hub. My husband has high triglycerides and he has been doing some of the things your hub recommends and having success. I didn't know about pistachios and prunes. So thank you for the information.

    • Joanna Verdan profile image

      Joanna Slodownik 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Although most people know that our diet influences our health, in reality what we put into our bodies has MUCH more influence on our health that most people want to believe (or are willing to admit). After reading reading such authors as Dr. Fuhrman, Graham, and other, I strongly believe that if you want to prevent disease and maintain excellent health - you should eat mostly unprocessed (raw or only slightly steamed or cooked) plant foods - so the bulk of our diet should come from fresh fruits, vegetables and greens. Even the so-called "good fats" should be eaten in moderation.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very helpful, but how to eat flaxseed?

    • minnow profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Seattle

      Hi Amanda and Shalini. There are symptoms which can range from very benign to quite serious. Depending on the specific lipid disorder a person has, the symptoms often do not show up in the mild ranges, but are more pronounced when the hypertriglyceridemia is severely elevated. For example, eruptive xanthomas or palmar xanthomas (collections of cells that ingest triglycerides); fundoscopic changes (the back of the eye); pancreatitis.

      Sadly enough, since hypertriglyceridemia is a risk factor in most cases for coronary artery disease, the first knowledge that a person might have that they have triglyceridemia is when he or she has a heart attack and blood work is done.

      Great questions and you definitely sent me back to the books, which I love doing! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      9 years ago from India

      Love the same things Amanda does too - and my triglycerides are well within the normal range. The scary thing, Amanda, is that very often there are no symptoms and only a routine blood test shows it up!

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      This is an interesting hub. I use a lot of nuts and seeds in my diet, as well as oily fish, so possibly am not at risk of this complaint. what are the symptoms BTW?


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