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Triglycerides Levels and Its Effects on your health


In understanding the intricate relationship between diet and triglycerides, making informed food choices becomes paramount. Triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, are greatly influenced by our dietary habits.

This blog delves into the fascinating link between what we eat and our triglyceride levels, offering insights to empower readers in crafting a diet conducive to maintaining optimal health and wellness.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are compounds formed when the body processes excess calories, sugar, and alcohol. These compounds are stored in fat cells and utilised as energy when required. If one consumes more carbohydrates than their body can burn, triglyceride levels may rise, increasing the risk of conditions such as atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, and PAD.

Elevated triglyceride levels are also linked to pancreatitis and liver disease. Hence, it is essential to monitor and control triglyceride levels for optimal health.

What are Normal or High Triglyceride Levels?

As per the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a lipid panel assesses your blood for levels of:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (beneficial) cholesterol
  • LDL (harmful) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Your doctor may advise fasting for 8-12 hours before the test. Results arrive in days, with guidance based on your test levels.

Adults Children 10-19 Children Under 10
Normal under 150 mg/dL under 90 mg/dL under 75 mg/dL
Borderline High 151–199 mg/dL 90–129 mg/dL 75–99 mg/dL
High over 200 mg/dL over 130 mg/dL over 100 mg/dL
Very High over 500 mg/dL n/a n/a


Note: The data presented in this table reflects measurements taken under fasting conditions, expressed in milligrams of triglycerides per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).

What are the Symptoms of High Triglycerides?

High triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, often don’t produce noticeable symptoms on their own. However, extremely high levels may cause symptoms such as:

  1. Abdominal Pain: Especially in the upper abdomen, it may be a sign of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  2. Fat deposits in the Skin: Visible yellowish deposits of fat (xanthomas) may appear on the elbows, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks.
  3. Pancreatitis: In severe cases, high triglycerides can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, causing severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
  4. Eruptive Xanthomas: These are small, yellowish-red bumps that appear on the skin and are often itchy. They usually occur in clusters and are indicative of very high triglyceride levels.
  5. Frequent Urination: High triglycerides can cause increased urination, particularly at night.

High triglycerides are often found in routine blood tests, often linked to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or hypothyroidism. Consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and management.

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What are the Causes and Risk Factors of High Triglycerides?

Factors that could lead to elevated triglyceride levels include:

  • A family history of high cholesterol
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Consuming a diet rich in sugar and simple carbohydrates
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poorly managed diabetes
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain drugs, such as beta-blockers, corticosteroids, hormones, and diuretics
  • Menopause
  • Smoking
  • Thyroid disease

Having triglyceride levels above normal increases the risk of arteriosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Additionally, high triglyceride levels may predispose individuals to pancreatitis and liver disease.

What are the Complications of High Triglycerides?

Elevated triglyceride levels elevate the likelihood of pancreatitis, a serious and agonising inflammation of the pancreas that can pose life-threatening risks.

Furthermore, heightened triglyceride levels heighten the susceptibility to heart and vascular conditions such as:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Metabolic syndrome, characterised by a blend of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Stroke

How Often Should You Get Tested for High Triglyceride Levels?

Individuals aged 20 and above should undergo testing every 4 to 6 years, with the frequency potentially adjusted by a healthcare provider based on individual health conditions. Children are advised to undergo testing once between ages 9 and 11, and once again between ages 17 and 21.

Are Low Triglyceride Levels a Cause for Concern?

As low triglyceride levels usually don’t raise alarm, there isn’t a specific range established currently. Triglyceride levels lower than the norm, like those below 150 mg/dL, commonly stem from factors such as:

  • Following a low-fat diet
  • Maintaining a nutritious diet
  • Engaging in fasting practices

However, low triglyceride levels might also signal an underlying issue like malnutrition or malabsorption. Nevertheless, these conditions are typically recognized and diagnosed through accompanying symptoms.

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What is the Treatment for High Triglyceride Levels?

A doctor may suggest prescription drugs for managing elevated triglyceride levels. These medications may include:

  • Statins like rosuvastatin calcium and atorvastatin calcium.
  • Fibrates such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate.
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors.
  • Nicotinic acid.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors.

Lifestyle Changes

Lowering elevated triglyceride levels can be achieved through three main approaches:

  1. Adopting a healthy diet.
  2. Engaging in regular aerobic exercise.
  3. Maintaining a moderate weight.

Among the healthy lifestyle options that help decrease elevated triglyceride levels are:

  • Diet: Avoid simple carbs like sugar and white flour, trans fats, and foods with hydrogenated oils. Opt for plant-based fats like olive or canola oil and fish rich in omega-3s instead of red meat. Limit alcohol due to high calories and sugar.
  • Exercise: Aim for 150 weekly minutes of moderate aerobic activity (30 minutes, 5 days a week) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
  • Weight: Cut calories to lower triglycerides. With nutrition and exercise, keep your weight in check.

Additional lifestyle adjustments that can aid in reducing triglyceride levels encompass:

  • Controlling elevated blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Ensuring sufficient sleep.
  • Effectively managing stress.
  • Ceasing smoking habits.

Furthermore, a healthcare provider might recommend supplements like niacin (nicotinic acid) or fish oil (rich in omega-3 fatty acids).

How can you Prevent or Lower High Triglycerides?

Modifying your dietary and lifestyle habits can effectively reduce triglyceride levels. To maintain optimal triglyceride and total cholesterol levels:

  1. Every day, spend at least thirty minutes exercising.
  2. Adopt a heart-healthy diet, focusing on reducing intake of unhealthy fats and simple sugars while increasing fibre consumption.
  3. Effectively manage high blood pressure and diabetes.
  4. Limit alcohol consumption.
  5. Ensure adequate sleep duration.
  6. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Implement stress management techniques.
  8. Cease tobacco product usage.

When Should You See a Doctor for High Triglyceride Levels?

High triglyceride levels often go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms, detected through lipid panel blood tests. Without high-risk factors, doctors order lipid panels every few years to monitor cholesterol and triglycerides.

Elevated triglycerides may prompt lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. If ineffective, medication like statins or fibrates might be recommended for management.


Maintaining optimal triglyceride levels is crucial for overall health. By making lifestyle adjustments and seeking medical guidance when needed, you can mitigate risks and promote long-term wellness. It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced endocrinologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult an endocrinologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


What are Triglycerides, and Why are They Important for Health?

Triglycerides are fats in the blood. They’re essential for energy, but high levels increase heart disease risk.

What Causes High Triglyceride Levels?

Factors include poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, genetics, and medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid disorders.

How Do High Triglycerides Affect Health?

Elevated levels raise heart disease risk, leading to atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. They also contribute to pancreatitis and metabolic syndrome.

Can Lifestyle Changes Lower Triglycerides?

Yes, adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, and managing weight can significantly reduce triglyceride levels.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Attention for High Triglycerides?

Consult a healthcare professional if levels are consistently high, especially if accompanied by other risk factors or symptoms like chest pain or abdominal discomfort.

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