How to lower your triglycerides with lifestyle and omega-3 fatty acids

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
How to lower your triglyceride levels

Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your triglyceride levels. But you should know which products work best, how much you should take and what level of triglycerides is considered dangerous to heart health. Keeping your triglyceride level in check is also possible with lifestyle changes.

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The active ingredients in omega-3 fatty acids are DHA and EPA that both help lower triglyceride levels. Prescription and over-the counter products may contain both. Supplements are available, but not controlled by the FDA. Prescription DHA/EPA can also be taken to protect from stroke and heart disease.

Fish that is part of the Mediterranean diet is another way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids to keep your triglyceride levels from soaring.

Recommendations are to get 2 to 4 grams of omega-3 fish oils a day for triglyceride levels greater than 500. Normal triglyceride levels is considered less than 100.

f you are considering buying fish oil capsules over-the-counter, be aware there may be contaminants in the supplements. You also won't know for certain how much omega-3 you're ingesting. Most fish oil supplements tested have been found to be safe, but reports are conflicting.

What raises triglycerides?

  • High blood sugar
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Eating fatty foods
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Alcohol
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Some medications, including steroids, some blood pressure medicine and beta-blockers

Triglycerides are fatty acids that are stored for energy in your fat cells and is different than cholesterol. The fatty acid contributes to hardening of the arteries and can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke, though how is still unclear.

Fruit juices, lack of exercise and fatty foods all contribute to elevated triglyceride levels that you can control. Consistently high levels can not only lead to heart disease. High levels of the fatty acid can also lead to pancreatitis.

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What do do when diet won't help?

  • Start eating a Mediterranean diet
  • Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Eat fewer carbohydrates
  • Eliminate trans-fats from you diet, found in some margarine and baked goods
  • Talk to your doctor about a prescription for pharmaceutical grade omega-3 fatty acid
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Lose weight

Prescription grade fish oils are recommended for triglyceride levels above 500. There are three types available that may or not be part of your prescription plan. Some are very expensive, making it important to check your medication formulary and share with your doctor. One popular example is Lovaza.

You might also need to have fish oil prescription authorized by your insurance company. Your doctor can assist you by submitting clinical information to your insurance provider.

It is also important to understand that you must fast before taking your blood test for cholesterol and triglycerides. Testing in a non-fasting stated can skew the results of testing, leading to unnecessary therapy.

Taking fish oil supplements from the drug store may not be enough to lower your triglyceride levels. Lifestyle changes can help, but when exercise, eating right, correcting underlying health problems and avoiding other unhealthy behaviors fails, speak with your doctor about a fish oil prescription. Prescription fish oil could lower your triglyceride levels by fifty-percent. If you are concerned about cost, over-the-counter omega-3 fatty acids, combined with eating fish might also help, combined with healthy eating and activity.

Resources:

"Role of prescription omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia"
PubMed.gov
Medscape Nurses

Related:
How Omega-3 fatty acids can help smokers
Could fish oil help diabetics?
Tests reveal fish oil contaminants in supplements

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