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What are these
Triglycerides in our blood
by Barbara Quinn
means that blood is laden with fat
...not good for a heart that has to pump it.
What are triglycerides? Simply said, triglycerides ("try-GLISS-er-rides")
are fats. Most of the fat (95 percent) in our food and almost all
(99 percent) of the fat in our body is in the form of triglycerides.
Triglycerides are named for their chemical structure - 3 ("tri")
fatty acids attached to a molecule of glycerol ("glyceride").
Depending on what type of fatty acids they are made from,
triglycerides are said to be "saturated" or "unsaturated." Food fats
that are solid at room temperature (think butter) are more
"saturated". Those that are liquid (like oils) are more unsaturated.
Triglycerides in the body have many functions. They cushion body
parts. They provide energy to body cells. And when not needed for
immediate energy (such as when we zone out on the couch with chips
and dip), triglycerides happily find a home in fat storage depots
known as adipose tissue.
Where do they come from? Triglycerides are in fat-containing foods
such as mayonnaise, nuts and oils. They are also present in meats,
fish, poultry, and dairy foods.
In our bodies, triglycerides are formed when we consume more
calories (body fuel) than we need for our daily activities. Excess
calories from any source - fat, carbohydrates (sugars and starches),
protein, or alcohol - can trigger the formation of triglycerides
(fat) in the body.
How can we avoid having problems with triglycerides in our blood
work? "High triglycerides" means that blood is laden with fat...not
good for a heart that has to pump it. Start by cutting extra fat
from your diet, especially the saturated variety often found in
processed and packaged food. The goal is not to eliminate all fat,
however. Some fats (such as the unsaturated variety) are essential.
Eat fewer sweet goodies. High blood triglycerides respond well to
diets lower in carbohydrates (sugars and starches). Cutting back on
alcohol also helps lower triglycerides.
What foods do you recommend (that help control blood triglycerides)?
First, fish...at least 2 servings a week. Omega 3 fatty acids in
fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines can help lower
Second, high fiber carbohydrate foods (whole grains, fresh fruit,
vegetables, beans and legumes) in place of more refined sugars and
Third, lower fat meat, poultry, and dairy foods. And small amounts
of unsaturated fats like nuts, oils, and avocados.
What foods should we avoid (that increase blood triglycerides)?
No food is totally off limits if you can eat it in moderation which
I love to say when I bake brownies. Just be aware that excessive
amounts of sugar and fat and alcohol can raise blood triglycerides
Hope this helps.
(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes
educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is
the author of The Diabetes DTOUR Diet, Rodale, 2009. Email her at
©2011 The Monterey County Herald Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune
The statements about products
have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any
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