Learn how the benefits of omega-3s and a healthy lifestyle can help you lower your triglyceride levels and avoid cholesterol-related heart issues.
With so much attention lavished on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, the importance of healthy triglyceride levels has been largely lost. And that’s too bad—because figuring out how to lower triglyceride levels is essential to heart health.
Triglycerides are the chemical building blocks of most fats in the body. There should be some amount of triglycerides for the body to turn into energy – I consider healthy triglyceride levels to be 50–100 mg/dL. Levels above that have been linked to coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome, which is why it is so important to learn how to lower your triglyceride levels.
The triglycerides in your blood come from dietary sources, primarily sugars and carbohydrates. Given that the typical American diet is laden with sugary, processed foods, it’s no surprise that high triglyceride levels are a problem for many people.
To Lower Your Triglyceride Levels, Take Omega-3s
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, and essential fatty acids (EFAs) help lower triglyceride levels. One popular way to get omega-3 benefits is by taking marine-based oil supplements, which can be found at health food and grocery stores. Options include fish, algae, or calamari oil supplements. For triglyceride support, try 2–3 grams daily in divided doses.
Get more of Dr. Sinatra's advice on Omega-3s
However, you must be careful to select only the best omega-3 supplements. Rising levels of ocean pollution increases the risk of fish being contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Oxidization is also a problem for fish oil, where large factory ships that catch the fish sometimes don’t process them fast enough to avoid the oil oxidizing. So look for a fish oil product that can guarantee freshness, preferably one that includes antioxidants such as rosemary extract and vitamin E. Another option is calamari oil supplements. The squid caught to make calamari oil supplements only live in the ocean for 450 days before they are harvested, which means they have less of a chance of absorbing contaminants compared to most fish. Supplements that use algae oil are also less likely to be contaminated compared to most fish oils.
Omega-3 Benefits are Only Part of the Story
Alongside taking your fish, algae, or calamari oil supplements, it is important that you eat better to lower your triglyceride levels. Specifically, you want to cut back on the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in your diet, and eat more healthy fats and lean protein. It’s my opinion that combining the healthy eating of Mediterranean cultures with traditional Asian cuisine offers the most heart-healthy diet of all. I call this approach to eating the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean diet, or PAMM diet, and it’s one of the best ways to lower your triglyceride levels.
It’s also important to keep your weight down. The lower your weight, the lower your triglycerides, so weight loss and weight management are key in lowering triglyceride levels. And since one of the best weight-management tools is exercise, I strongly recommend exercising regularly.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Healthy Cholesterol
What numbers indicate high cholesterol? Get my recommendations on what constitutes healthy cholesterol levels.
What are the different subtypes of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol? Discover which kinds of cholesterol are most harmful.
What tests do you need to accurately assess your cholesterol levels? Find out which tests can flag the most dangerous subtypes of cholesterol.