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Triglycerides – can course heart problems

TG’s are measured by a blood test but years ago when your doctor measured your cholesterol levels, triglycerides (TG’s) were barely mentioned. However we now know that levels higher than a 150mg/dl can considerably increase your chances of a heart attack.

TG’s is just another name for calorie packed fat and though they are a great source of energy too many of them will find their way into your fat cells, expanding them and you in the process.

Your body converts the food you eat into TG’s and then they pass through your bloodstream inside cholesterol particles and inside little energy ball packed with TG’s called chylomicrons.

Normal levels of TG’s are a great source of energy for your working muscles but the ones your muscles didn’t burn because you decided to have a lazy day, are quickly stored as fat. TG’s normally hit your bloodstream 3-6 hours after a meal and are burned or stored within 10-12 hours. Any extra can clog your blood vessels with fat, which can set off blood clots that will prevent blood reaching your heart, killing your heart. The same problem can happen to the brain resulting in a stroke.

The prime cause of too many TG’s is being overweight. Overweight people produce too many and their bodies store it easily and burn it slowly.

Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits also boost TG’s but why is still uncertain.

After the age of 40 TG’s begin to rise. This is because the body does not produce so much of an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides. Women are particularly at risk after the menopause. This is when they can start to put on weight around the middle and at the same time levels of the heart protecting hormone, oestrogen, begin to fall.

There are certain medications that can raise TG’s. Blood pressure medicine, oral oestrogen, diuretics, acne medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and bile acid seqestrants that actually treats high cholesterol, can all have an adverse effect on TG’s.

To combat high TG’s the first thing you should do is drop a few pounds and exercise. Eat high fibre food such as wholegrains, fruit and vegetables and cut out refined foods such as white bread and pasta. Stamford University found diets low in fibre and high in sugar raised TG’s by 30%. Where as a high fibre diet actually lowered TG’s by 25%. Finally eat fish. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish-oil supplements protect your artery walls. Salmon and mackerel have found to be the best. If all else fails see your GP and ask about medication.
Finally, very high TG’s or very low TG’s can also be a signal of more serious problems.

VERY HIGH TG’s (500-1000mg/dl or higher)
May signal liver disease, an underactive thyroid, poorly controlled diabetes, kidney disease, a pancreas infection, polycystic ovary syndrome (a cause of infertility) or a diet too low in protein and too high in fat and refined carbohydrates.

VERY LOW TG’s (less than 10mg/dl)
This could signal anorexia, an intestinal tract that cannot absorb nutrients, a diet too low in fat, malnutrition or a thyroid problem.

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