Another Blood Fat: Triglycerides

Eat too much and you gain weight, It’s one of the simplest facts in medicine, But the repercussions of gluttony go beyond weight gain. When you eat more calories than you need, your body converts them into a form of fat called triglycerides and sends them to your fat. cells for storage. Although triglycerides aren’t technically a form of cholesterol, they are a blood fat, or lipid, just like cholesterol They’re also sharing space in those same lipoprotein bubbles that carry cholesterol around, so its nearly impossible to consider one without considering the other.

Normally, you should have only small amounts of triglycerides in your bloodstream. If your level is high (above 200 mg/dl 8 to 10 hours alter your last meal), there’s a problem. The higher your level, the more triglycerides are delivered to your liver, where they are transformed into LDL and VLDL—which, as you saw earlier, significantly contribute to CHD.

Doctors used to think that an elevated blood triglyceride level alone didn’t cause atherosclerosis or CHD, but now they’re not so sure. In one major German study in which 4,849 middle-aged men were followed for eight years, their triglyceride levels alone—regardless of HDL or LDL levels—turned up as a risk factor for CHD, Of course, the risk of suffering a heart attack or other incident related to CHD went up even more when the men had high triglycerides, high LDL, and low HDL. At the very least, think of triglycerides as the canary in the coal mine: If your level is high—even if everything else seems normal—take warning.

Triglycerides can be dangerous for several reasons. For one, lipoproteins rich in triglycerides also contain cholesterol. So high triglycerides may be a sign of a current or forthcoming problem with your LDL level. High triglycerides also make it more likely that your LDL will cause lesions in your coronary artery walls, setting in motion the cascade of events that can lead to CHD. If you’re a woman you need to worry about this blood fat even more than men because studies find that high triglyceride levels represent a much greater risk for heart disease in women than in men.

Triglycerides tend to be high if you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, are obese, are sedentary, are going through menopause, or eat too many simple carbohydrates (like sugar and white flour). Certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney or liver disease, and hypothyroidism—as well as genetic predisposition—can also increase your risk of high triglycerides.

If you don’t have any of these factors, your triglyceride level is usually less than 100 mg/dl But if you do, your level will likely rise into the 150-199 mg/dl range.If it’s above 200 mg/dl, it’s likely there’s some genetic influence as well.

Triglyceride level (mg/dl) Risk of CHD
500 mg/dl and above Very high
200-499 mg/dl High
50-199 mg/dl Borderline high
Less than 150 mg/dl (under 100 is ideal) Normal

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