Normal Cholesterol, but High Triglycerides?

The heart beats an average 2.5 billion times throughout the average lifetime. It pushes millions of gallons of blood to each part of the body. And, when it comes to managing your heart health all of the terminology and treatments are confusing. Most people understand cholesterol, but what about triglycerides? And how is it possible to have normal cholesterol but high triglycerides?

Triglycerides and cholesterol are two different types of lipids (fats) that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, while cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones. Cholesterol and triglycerides travel through the bloodstream in packages called lipoproteins that are made of lipid on the inside and protein on the outside.

Triglycerides are essential for body function. When you eat, any unused calories are immediately converted into triglycerides, which are then stored in your fat cells. Hormones later release triglycerides for energy between meals.Regularly eating more fatty calories than you need, such as carbohydrates increases high triglyceride risk.  Having high triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls, which increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

Triglyceride levels have risen in the past 30 years as one-third of adults in the United States have borderline high triglyceride levels. Having a high level of triglycerides increases your risk of heart disease.

If you want to know more about the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol, please read our previous blog post about it here.

But, what if you’ve been managing your cholesterol? Shouldn’t this manage triglyceride levels too? Unfortunately, despite having low LDL and HDL levels (the metric for measuring cholesterol) you can still have high triglycerides. Like previously mentioned, triglycerides become elevated due to excess calories that do not get burned off and instead become stored in fat cells.

Luckily, the same measures for managing your overall heart also improve your triglyceride levels. Daily exercise, walking after dinner, reducing sugar and alcohol, can all help improve your triglyceride levels.


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