The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
- Diets high in fiber have reduced triglyceride levels in some studies. Water-soluble fibers, such as those found in fruit, beans, and oats, may be particularly helpful.
Diets high in fiber have reduced TG levels in several clinical trials,83 but have had no effect in other clinical trials.84 Water-soluble fibers, such as pectin found in fruit, guar gum and other gums found in beans, and beta-glucan found in oats, may be particularly helpful in lowering triglycerides.
- In a study of heavy caffeine users, changing to decaffeinated coffee and eliminating all other caffeinated products reduced triglyceride levels by 25%.
- Triglyceride-lowering omega-3s are found in fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and black cod.
Some,86,87 but not all,88 studies have found that increasing consumption of fish is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Significant amounts of TG-lowering omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) can be found in the fish oil of salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and black cod. Many doctors recommend that people with elevated TGs increase their intake of these fatty fish.
- People with elevated triglycerides should replace sugary foods and beverages with natural, unsweetened options, as refined sugar increases triglyceride levels.
Ingesting refined sugar increases TG levels, as well.89,90 People with elevated TGs should therefore reduce their intake of sugar, sweets, and other sugar-containing foods. There is also evidence that ingesting fructose in amounts that are found in a typical Western diet can raise TG levels, although not all studies agree on that point.91 It should be noted that most studies of fructose investigated the refined form, not the fructose that occurs naturally in some fruits.
- Many doctors recommend a diet higher in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, over a diet high in saturated fat to reduce triglycerides and heart disease risk. In other words, choose fish, soy, and nonfat dairy, and avoid meats and fatty dairy.
The blood level of TGs following a meal may be a more important indicator of coronary heart disease risk than the fasting level.92,93 However, a low-fat diet (55% carbohydrates, 23% fats, 22% proteins) that succeeded in normalizing other blood lipids, including fasting TG levels, failed to normalize post-meal TG levels in a group of people with hypertriglyceridemia.94 These results suggest that dietary reduction of fasting TGs, even if the diet controls other blood lipids, may not be enough to provide optimal protection against coronary heart disease. Many doctors recommend a diet low in saturated fat (meaning avoidance of red meat and all dairy except nonfat dairy) to reduce TGs and the risk of heart disease.95
- In one study, a low-fat diet high in unrefined carbohydrates reduced triglycerides.
Consumption of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet reduced TGs in one study.96 However, in another study, populations that consumed a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet had higher TG levels, compared with populations that consumed lower amounts of carbohydrates.97 Suddenly switching to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet will generally increase TGs temporarily, but making the switch gradually protects against this short-term problem.98
- While drinking moderate amounts of alcohol does not appear to affect triglyceride, heavy drinking is believed to increase levels.
While consuming moderate amounts of alcohol does not appear to affect TG levels, heavy drinking is believed to be an important cause of hypertriglyceridemia.99 Alcoholics with elevated TG levels should deal with the disease of alcoholism first.