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  1. Where can I find a dietitian who works with people who have high triglycerides? Answer
  2. What makes my triglyceride blood level high? Answer
  3. My doctor feels that my triglyceride level calls for a Type 4 lipoprotein diet. Can you provide this? Answer
  4. My triglycerides are over 700. I cut out sugar, sweets and my Cokes to only 2 a day. Is that still too many? Answer
  5. My triglycerides were the highest the doctor ever had seen and my cholesterol was at 308. What can I do to get myself back in healthy condition? Answer
  6. On the weekends I go out with my friends for 12 - 20 beers for the whole weekend. My test showed that my triglycerides were 125, choleterol was 223. Please advise me. Answer
  7. I don't eat many sweets so I can't point to a case for high triglycerides. Answer
  8. Triglycerides are high. What makes the triglycerides high in the blood? I don't believe I eat a lot of fatty foods and I don't drink. Answer
  9. My choleserol level was 220 and my triglyceride level was 304. I seldom drink. I don't eat sweets except for a daily mocha or two. Answer

  10. How serious is triglycerides at 545? I was wondering what steps I should take? Answer
  11. Could you please expand on your explanation of the relationship between sugar, alcohol and triglycerides? Answer
  12. When you covered triglycerides, you glossed over their functions in transporting fats to the liver. Answer
  13. My doctor says I have high triglycerides. He told me to cut out booze and sweets. Can you explain it to me? Answer

Where can I find a dietitian who works with people who have high triglycerides?

The Medical Nutrition and Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice groups of the American Dietetic Association provide medical nutrition therapy based on your diagnosis. They can take your food history and make recommendations to lower your triglycerides. Dietitians often have their own private practice nutrition counseling services in addition to services provided in a clinic or hospital. You can find a dietitian at the American Dietetic Association. Include your zip code or city / state, the type of service you want (individual consultation) and expertise needed.

I recently had a cholesterol blood test performed and I wanted to ask a few questions. First of all, my results:

  • Total cholesterol 187mg/dL
  • Triglycerides 360 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol 29 mg/dL
  • LDL cholesterol 86 mg/dL
I understand that my total cholesterol below 200 is okay, HDL is low, LDL is okay, and triglycerides are high.

I exercise 5-6 times a week taking aerobics. I weigh 176 pounds, height is 5 feet 8 inches. I've been at a high level of exercise (1 hour aerobics + some extra time) for over 1 year, and I've lost 25 pounds. I lost most of the weight during the first 3 months of my current program, and have been stable at 176 pounds for many months. I have much more muscle definition now than when I started this program. I'm 38 and have done various forms of exercise most of my life.

  1. What makes the triglycerides high in the blood? I don't believe I eat a lot of fatty foods, and I don't drink. I also don't drink many soft drinks. What might make my triglyceride blood level high?
  2. What can be done to improve HDL levels?
Thank you for your comments.

You are correct about your blood results and congrats on your weight loss. You have lost 14% of your body weight which has probably helped improve your blood fats.

Your cholesterol is within normal ranges which is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter. Your HDL cholesterol is low because it should be abouve 40 milligrams per deciliter. Your HDL should go up with exercise considering you are doing aerobic exercise almost every day, but HDL is not going up and it could be because you need to lose about 13 pounds tho that would be determined by your percent body fat. Your LDL cholesterol is within normal range at less than 100 millimoles per liter. Your triglycerides are 360 and should be below 150 milligrams per deciliter.

Your healthy weight range for your height and age is 121 to 163 pounds. Have you had your body fat tested? If your body fat were bdlow 18% which is normal for males, then you could weigh more than 163 pounds, but given that your HDL is low, I am guessing your body fat is higher than 18%. You say you have been at a weight plateau for many months and you need to slightly reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories per day and up your exercise by spending 250 calories per day. Try my Healthy Body Calculator® to determine a calorie goal for you if you select lose 1 or 2 pounds a week in the weight goal section.

To answer your questions:
  1. Alcohol and sugar make triglycerides go up in the blood. If you eliminate alcohol (distilled liquor, beer, wine & liqueurs) and added sugars including sugar added to processed / packaged foods, your triglycerides should go down. Triglycerides are the fat your body stores in fat cells.
  2. Continue your aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week for 1 hour per day. Have you thought about adding weight lifting (strength training) to your routine?

I am a type 2 diabetic and recovering from a stroke. My doctor feels that my triglyceride level calls for a TYPE 4 hyperlipoprotein diet. Can you provide this or direct me to an online source, as I have difficulty getting to a library? Keep up the good work!

I haven't heard a nutrition therapy for high triglycerides called this in years as the American Heart Association and the National Institute of Health replaced these types. I think your doctor meant hyperlipidemia nutrition therapy which means you have normal or slightly increased cholesterol and high triglycerides (VLDL). If your diabetes is not well controlled, it may be the cause for your high triglycerides.

You need a diabetic nutrition therapy that counts carbohydrates. Excess carbohydrates will not only make your blood sugar go up, but also make your triglycerides go up. Saturated fat, trans fat and high fat foods will make your cholesterol go higher. If you had a stroke, you may also need a salt restricted nutrition therapy especially if you have high blood pressure. This may be a lot for you to handle and I would recommend you contact a Registered Dietitian for an appointment. You may be able to arrange a home visit rather than an appointment if you have difficulty getting around. It would be money well spent.

The consequences of poor diabetes control plus elevated blood fats increase your risk of a heart attack and another stroke. Get and keep your blood sugar under control through daily blood glucose monitoring, diabetic eating plan and prescribed medication. A glycohemoglobin blood test (A1c) will tell your doctor what your blood glucose control has been over the last 4 months and research has found that this test is the best indicator of reduced complications from diabetes i.e. eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.

My triglycerides are over 700. My cholesterol was normal. I have done everything to bring it under 700. I cut out sweets, sugar and my cokes to only 2 a day Is that still to many?

I am 60 lb. overweight. I have cut fat percent to 15 grams a day and calories to 1700. I exercise 4 times a week for 30 min. I have been doing this for a year. Why can't I loose the weight and bring my triglycerides down?

With a triglyceride level over 700, I would suggest you continue to eliminate all high sugar foods and switch to diet colas. You did not say if you drink alcohol. If yes, quit all alcohol and sweets which increase triglycerides.

Would also suggest you continue to lose weight and exercise. Try out the Healthy Body Calculator to determine how many calories and grams of fat to eat to lose 1 or 2 pounds per day. Your choice of 15 grams of fat per day (8% of 1700 calories) seems a bit low. Do you have a problem with feeling satisfied after meals? If yes, you should consider increasing the fat in your diet to a minimum of 25% of your calories to improve satiety or feeling full after meals..

Keep exercising, but increase to 5 times 30 minutes per week. Make sure you include aerobic exercise to reduce body fat.

I suspect undiagnosed or latent diabetes. Do you have a family history of diabetes?

I went in for a physical recently and was informed that my triglycerides were the highest the doctor had ever seen (875) and my cholesterol was at 308. All other aspects of the physical went well. I went again today for another blood lab after fasting from the evening the night before.

I am 32 years, 5'11'', weighing 186# and am fairly active. I haven't been drinking at all due to illness (bronchitis) and also as a result of my efforts to quit smoking (1 week and 1 day today). I don't drink much soda at all and when I do it is "diet". I do tend to eat a lot of hard candies (a function of my efforts to quit smoking). I eat a lot of red meat and chicken, fried foods and eat little to no vegetables or fruit. I don't like most vegetables.

I have a wonderful family and want to see my children grow up. What can I do to get myself back in healthy condition? Thanks for your help.

Ask you doctor what your blood sugar was. Often a very high triglyceride level like yours can be caused by undiagnosed diabetes. Depending on when you had your blood sugar tested (fasting versus after a meal) may affect whether or not any abnormal blood sugar level showed up, especially if you have a minor abnormal glucose tolerance.

Eliminate all simple sugars including the hard candy and alcohol to reduce triglycerides. Switch to a sugar free hard candy. Some contain sorbitol or manitol, which can cause gas or diarrhea if eaten to excess. It may take 4 weeks or more to get down to normal levels after abstaining from these foods.

Your cholesterol is way too high as well. Your cholesterol should be below 200. Cholesterol doesn't respond as quickly as triglycerides to diet or lifestyle changes. Being active is not the same as getting regular exercise that elevates your heart rate for 30 minutes 5 times per week. Start a regular exercise program.

Did your doctor do HDL, LDL and VLDL levels? Would bet your LDL (cholesterol) and VLDL (triglycerides) levels are elevated.

Your body weight is in a healthy range as is your BMI (body mass index). Congrats on quitting smoking. It is the best thing you could do for your family's health and yours.

Now, with regards to your food choices. Why don't you eat fruit and vegetables? No time, habit or taste? Does the cook in your house like to prepare vegetables and fruits with meals? Your children learn by your example and will probably not like fruits or vegetables either. It's called modeling food behaviors. If you don't like cooked vegetables, try eating raw or juiced veggies. If you don't like fruit, try drinking real juice, not the fruit drinks that are mostly sugar and water. You should aim to eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day. Eating a lot of meat and no vegetables or fruits will cause you more than elevated fats in your blood. Studies show that people who don't eat fruits and vegetables also have an increased risk of cancer. How's that for a motivator?

Your meat should be limited to 3 ounces twice per day and you should change to eating broiled or roasted poultry or fish rather than fried meats.

Also, try out the Healthy Body Calculator. If you put in your height, weight and nutrition goals (i.e. control fat grams to < 30% of calories), it will calculate how many grams of fat you should eat based on your weight goal (i.e. maintain weight). If your weight changes, come back and re-enter your data to get a new calculation based on a different weight.

I would suggest you talk to a Registered Dietitian who could assist with some diet changes and meal plans. There is probably one available in your doctor's medical clinic or local hospital.

I'm writing you in regards to a physical that I had recently. I'm a male 28 years old, 5 9" 220 lb. with a pretty big build due to former bodybuilding that I used to do. I exercise moderately by riding my bike about 2 hours a week. My diet I think is pretty good. I eat very low fat foods, but on the weekends, I go out with my friends for approximately 12-20 beers for the whole weekend.

My test showed that my triglycerides were 1254mg/dl, cholesterol was 223 and my SGPT (Blood test for liver enzyme. Higher results may indicate hepatitis or cirrhosis in persons who drink.) was 50. I also forgot to say I really do not eat any sweets. I know I have to stop the drinking, but is there any thing else I should doing to lower my tests. Also my test for diabetes was negative. Please advise me.

You are correct. Your triglycerides and SGPT tests are too high. Your SGPT should be 4 - 36 U / L. SGPT is a liver enzyme and when it is elevated, which alcohol can do, it indicates possible liver damage. Your liver enzymes should come down rather quickly if you do not drink any alcohol. If you continue drinking, you will probably end up with permanent liver damage or cirrhosis.

Also, your triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl. Your tests showed your triglycerides to be extremely high (1254 mg/dl). One possible reason for this is your alcohol consumption. Triglycerides are elevated with alcohol consumption.

If you know what your body fat percentage is try the Healthy Body Calculator. However, if you haven't had your body fat tested in the last month, your body fat may have increased and you should have it measured again before including body fat data. A healthy weight for you depends on what your body fat percentage is.

In regards to adding strength training; I went from lots of aerobic exercise to a period of just lifting weights. I added about 20 pounds (155 pounds through high school and college) to about 175 pounds. Then for a period of about 3 years I didn't do much, and my weight went to 195 pounds (overweight for my frame). Then for about 3 years I rode a bicycle to and from work almost everyday, my weight returned to 175 pounds. I then had another 2 year period of nothing and I regained weight to 195 pounds. As of late 1995, I began the aggressive aerobic schedule as mentioned, and my weight has returned to 175. I have added some weight training together with the aerobics, but I wouldn't consider it aggressive weight training (like I did to gain 20 pounds.). I prefer a leaner look and feel. I believe I'm still about 5 pounds overweight for my frame, however I do have wide shoulders.

I don't eat many sweets, so I can't point to a case for high triglycerides. I'm under medication for high blood pressure (140/85 on a regular basis). I take 240mg of Verapamil every morning. There is a warning that Verapamil can increase liver enzymes, but I don't know how that would affect triglycerides.

My family has a history of hypertension. My father had a heart attack at age 55, but he was a lifetime smoker. He no longer smokes. My family also has some cases of diabetes (my sister, grandmother and some aunts and uncles). My doctor was not concerned about the lower HDLs and elevated triglycerides.

I do not know my glucose level. Should I get this checked? What are normal ranges? I do know that most of my family has elevated cholesterol levels. They have never exercised much and I've tried to get them to but they can't seem to find the time.

I look forward to your comments again.

Well your weight fluctuations are a good example of the negative effect of a sedentary lifestyle.

With your elevated triglycerides and a family history of diabetes, I would recommend you talk to your doctor about testing you blood glucose and A1C. Undiagnosed pre-diabetes could be the cause of your elevated triglycerides. Your triglycerides should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Your blood sugar should be less than 105 milligrams per deciliter in a fasted state (nothing to eat after midnight the night before) and should be less than 140 milligrams per deciliter two hours after a meal. Your A1C should be less than 6.0 if you don't have diabetes. Also until your triglycerides return to normal, I would recommend you not drink any alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, distilled beverages or liqueurs).

Your blood pressure puts you in the category of hypertension. So I would recommend you quit using salt at the table, don't eat salty foods like bacon or sauerkraut and cook with half the amount of salt.

You didn't mention if you smoke, but if you do, I would highly recommend you quit smoking.

I recently had a cholesterol blood test performed and I wanted to ask a few questions. First of all, my results: Total cholesterol 187mg/dl, Triglycerides 360 mg/dl, HDL cholesterol 29 mg/dl and LDL cholesterol 86 mg/dl. I understand that my total cholesterol below 200 is okay, HDL is low, LDL is okay and triglycerides are high. I exercise 5-6 times a week taking aerobics. I weigh 176 lb., height is 5' 8". I've been at a high level of exercise (1 hr aerobics + some extra time) for over 1 year and I've lost 25 lb. I lost most of the weight during the first 3 months of my current program and have been stable at 176 lb. for many months. I have much more muscle definition now than when I started this program. I'm 38 and have done various forms of exercise most of my life.


1. What makes the triglycerides high in the blood? I don't believe I eat a lot of fatty foods and I don't drink. I also don't drink many soft drinks. What might make my triglyceride blood level high?

2. What can be done to improve HDL levels?

Thank you for your comments.

Congrats on a great exercise program! Have you considered adding strength training to your program?

Alcohol and sugar sweetened foods increase triglycerides. If you don't drink alcohol, then perhaps you eat sweets other than carbonated beverages?

Exercise usually increases HDL levels and considering your exercise program, I would think yours would be in a more optimal range of 35 - 70 mg / dl. Estrogen (not a consideration for males) or insulin therapy increase HDL's. Your LDL's are great though. Your blood lipids results seem a bit disproportionate to each other in particular the LDL and triglycerides. Have you talked to your doctor about your results and what does he / she say? Also, what is the lipid profile like for other members of your family like parents and siblings? Is there a family history of heart disease?

Is your blood glucose in normal ranges? Undiagnosed diabetes can cause an increase in triglycerides and a decrease in HDL's.

BTW, your healthy body weight range is 139 - 169 pounds. Depending on your percent body fat, you still could be about 7 pounds overweight. Though this would not contribute to your high triglycerides and low HDL's.

I'm a 28-year-old male that recently had a full-blown blood panel done. To my surprise, my cholesterol level was 220 (HDL = 39, LDL = 120) and my triglyceride level was 304!!! I'm not overweight, I seldom drink and I have what I consider an average diet for a male my age (O.K. maybe more fries than I should now and then). I don't eat sweets, except for a daily Mocha or two (with extra chocolate). Could these sweet little chocolate drinks be sending my triglyceride levels through the roof? I think I can work on reducing my cholesterol level through better diet and more exercise, but what about these triglycerides?

Your cholesterol should be below 200, HDL cholesterol 30 - 80 mg/dl and LDL less than 130 mg/dl. Both your HDL and LDL are within normal ranges. What is your VLDL cholesterol?

To reduce the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) you should reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Read the cholesterol & saturated fat topic for more details.

Your triglycerides are high and should be less than 150 mg/dl. Until your triglycerides come down below normal, you should avoid all alcohol, sugar and concentrated sweets including your daily mocha.

If you are exercising 3 to 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes, then you may want to talk to an exercise physiologist to tailor an exercise program for you. Exercise helps increase the "good" cholesterol HDL.

I'm in the process of applying for life insurance. I just received the blood test results back and there are 3 elevated items. I read your information on triglycerides which was very helpful. However, mine are at 545 mg/dl. You mentioned that 150 was on the high end of normal. My cholesterol is at 254 mg/dl and my SGPT (ALT) is at 52 U/L.

I would like to know the following:
1. How serious is triglycerides at 545?
2. What is SGPT (ALT)?

I'm 32 years old and a smoker with a wife and two small children. I realize I need to make a change with my life and I was wondering what steps I should take?

I guess that you may drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages daily (elevated triglycerides and SGPT). Did the life insurance company test your blood sugar and was the result within normal ranges of 70 - 110 mg/dl? You could also be an undiagnosed diabetic and triglycerides sometimes point in that direction as well.

Yes your triglycerides (VLDL cholesterol) are very high at 545. I would suggest a diabetic diet with no sugar or alcohol and 50 - 55% of calories from carbohydrates (mostly low fat starches). Triglycerides are really responsive to dietary changes and can come down rather quickly (1 - 3 months).

Your cholesterol is also high. Saturated fats (any animal product, coconut and palm kernel oils) and high cholesterol foods increase blood cholesterol (the LDL portion). Read the cholesterol & saturated fat topic also. Recent research suggests that high cholesterol foods, especially egg yolks may play a lesser role in increasing blood cholesterol. A 25% fat, low saturated fat diet should lower your LDL cholesterol.

The SGPT (ALT) is an enzyme produced by the liver. Normal ranges are 1 - 21 u/l and yours is elevated at 52. This occurs in hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver (usually due to alcoholism) or cancer. I would suggest you eat only low fat foods which will limit the stress already on your liver and so that healthy liver cells are not replaced by fat which would reduce your liver's ability to function.

If you have not seen your doctor in a while, I would suggest a complete physical. Then I would ask your doctor to suggest a Registered Dietitian to help you plan a low fat/ low saturated fat diabetic, no sugar , no alcohol diet with your food preferences in mind. If you are overweight, then weight reduction would also be helpful.

Can you please expand on your explanation of the relationship between sugar, alcohol and triglycerides? Parts of your brief overview don't make sense to me.

For one thing, you said that the direct absorption of alcohol causes the liver to reduce its sugars production, leaving the body to turn to fat as an alternate fuel supply. I assume the fats turned to are the triglycerides. As such, since the fats are thus being used or broken down, wouldn't that mechanism work to REDUCE the overall triglycerides level in the blood?

Secondly, the relationship between ingested fats and cholesterol and resultant blood levels of fats and cholesterol is somewhat intuitive; i.e., the relationship makes some sense. All you offer in your explanation of sugar is that eating sugars is the one of the ways to increase triglyceride levels in the blood. By what mechanism? All I can guess is that it is the reverse of the above situation i.e. eating sugars provides a direct fuel source and as such the body needn't rely on blood fats for its fuel, leaving them to build up. However, if that were so, then my notion above that alcohol should reduce triglyceride production would have to be true.

After a health near miss, I am on a rigorous program to reduce cholesterol, increase HDL, reduce LDL, etc. I attend to many major diet guidelines and I work out 5 days a week. I don't drink at all, but I do eat sugar. I understand that the picture has many facets. What I am trying to get is a clearer picture of the relative importance each of the many aspects.

Another question: from a cholesterol point of view, just how harmful are shellfish, in particular, shrimp? I had heard that while there is indeed cholesterol in shrimp at higher levels, it is not the same as eating an equivalent amount of red meat (of which I eat almost none). I would hate to have to give these things up too!

Alcohol, sugars (fructose to glucose) and the liver processes fats. When alcohol (ethanol) is present in the blood, the liver prioritizes removing alcohol from the blood over other metabolic processes. The liver can detoxify about one ounce of alcohol per hour. (This is equivalent to 1 1/2 ounce of 80 proof alcohol or 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine.) Meanwhile, fats and glucose tends to be further processed into triglycerides which raises blood levels. High levels of circulating triglycerides is one risk factor in heart disease.

Any excess calories, irrelative of the source, from protein, fat or carbohydrate, are converted to fat, usually to triglycerides. If you consume sugar, then you do risk increasing your blood triglyceride levels.

The problem is the body prefers to run on glucose, not triglycerides. The sources of glucose are diet, liver, muscles and lean tissue (organs and lean tissue). Triglycerides are stored in adipose tissue (fat cells).

Congratulations on your lifestyle changes to improve your health. If your triglycerides are greater than 150 then, you should eliminate concentrated sweets and sugars from your diet.

In regards to shrimp, shellfish does contain cholesterol and twice as much as lobster and one third greater than crab. Shrimp contains 150 mg of cholesterol per 3 1/2 oz. The number of shrimp would depend on how large they are. Another way of thinking is that this amount of shrimp is equivalent to 70% of the cholesterol in 1 egg yolk. The current recommendations are to limit egg yolks to 4 per week. So substitute 142 grams (5 ounces) of shrimp for one of the egg yolks per week. An equivalent amount of hamburger (10% fat cooked well done) would have 105 milligrams of cholesterol. So red meat is not as high in cholesterol as shrimp. You choose.

When you covered the topic of triglycerides in the blood, you seem to have glossed over their functions in transporting fats to the liver and excretory organs. Also left uncovered was the structure, synthesis and differences from lipoproteins, all of which might help your readers understand how to read a CBC or triglyceride / lipoprotein panel when they go in for lab work.

I wonder if you don't want to go into a bit more detail as to why, for example, rapidly absorbed monosaccharides and polyhydroxyl alcohols are a bad idea for folks with elevated triglycerides (acetylation and fat synthesis wouldn't be a bad topic to cover, either).

Thanks for your suggestions. Since the audience I intended to reach is the general public, I usually don't go deep into the biochemistry.

My doctor says I have high triglycerides. He told me to cut out booze and sweets. Can you explain it to me?

Triglycerides are a fat found in your blood. It is a fat similar to cholesterol. A diet to lower cholesterol limits egg yolks and fatty meats. A diet to lower triglycerides omits alcohol and sugar.

Alcohol is absorbed through the lining of the stomach. It shuts off your liver from releasing sugar into your bloodstream. Since sugar is your main fuel, the body must turn to the next readily available fuel, blood fats. However, the calories from alcohol are turned into fat, so the fat levels in your blood go up.

Simple sugars like sugar, candy, pop and desserts seem to be the most readily available in stimulating triglyceride production. Complex carbohydrates like starch and cereal grains seem to have a lowering effect on triglycerides.

A normal blood triglyceride level is 40 to 150 milligrams. Persons with higher values are put on a sugar-free, alcohol-free diet. A significant drop in your triglyceride level to near normal should occur within three to six weeks if you strictly follow your diet. Your doctor may also advise you to cut down on fats and cholesterol and to lower weight if your cholesterol is also high.

After your triglyceride level goes back to normal, you may be able to ease up a bit and have one sweet and up to two cocktails per week. You will have to follow a modified sugar and alcohol diet for the rest of your life however.

An elevated triglyceride level is considered to significantly increase heart disease even though you don't find triglycerides plugging up your arteries. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.

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