Triglyceride test definition and facts
- Elevated triglyceride levels may be a risk factor for atherosclerosis. Highly elevated triglyceride levels may also cause fatty liver disease and pancreatitis.
- High triglyceride levels can also be associated with diabetes, kidney disease, and the use of some medications.
- Triglycerides are the main ingredient in vegetable oils and animal fats.
The triglyceride test measures the level of triglycerides in the blood.
- Fasting for 9 to 12 hours before the triglyceride test is required.
Normal triglyceride levels in the blood are less than 150 mg per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Triglyceride levels can be controlled to some extent by lifestyle modifications and, when necessary, medications.
How to Lower Triglycerides Naturally
Triglycerides can be lowered without drugs. For example, they can be lowered naturally through diet changes, decreasing consumption of alcohol or sugary beverages, by increasing physical activity, by losing weight, and other ways. As little as 5% to 10% reduction in body weight may lower triglycerides. The table below summarizes how much benefit different changes can effect.
LDL and HDL: What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are chemical compounds digested by the body to provide it with the energy for metabolism. Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. They are the main ingredient in vegetable oils and animal fats.
The triglyceride molecule is a form of the chemical glycerol (tri=three molecules of fatty acid + glyceride=glycerol) that contains three fatty acids. To be absorbed, these parts are broken apart in the small intestine and afterward are reassembled with cholesterol to form chylomicrons. This is the source of energy for cells in the body. Fat cells and liver cells are used as storage sites and release chylomicrons when the body needs the energy.
Elevated triglyceride levels are a risk factor for atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries with the buildup of fatty plaques that may lead to heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Markedly elevated triglyceride levels may also cause fatty liver disease and pancreatitis.
Certain diseases and conditions may cause elevated triglyceride blood levels, for example:
Cirrhosis of the liver or other liver diseases
Some medications (for example, beta-blockers, diuretics, birth control pills)
Alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride blood levels by causing the liver to produce more fatty acids. However, there are some beneficial aspects of moderate alcohol consumption, defined as one alcoholic beverage per day (a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or an ounce of hard liquor), that may balance this triglyceride rise.
Moderate alcohol consumption may mildly increase HDL (the good cholesterol) levels in the bloodstream and red wine, which contains antioxidants, may decrease the risk of heart disease. However, it is not recommended that people start to drink alcohol to obtain these effects.