April 19, 2011

Diet Changes Lower Triglycerides

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Dietary and lifestyle changes significantly reduce elevated triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which are associated with heart, blood vessel and other diseases, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement.

Changes such as substituting healthy, unsaturated dietary fats for saturated ones, engaging in physical activity and losing excess weight can decrease triglycerides by 20-percent to 50-percent, according to the statement's authors.

"The good news is that high triglycerides can, in large part, be reduced through major lifestyle changes," Michael Miller, M.D., chair of the statement committee and professor of medicine in epidemiology and public health and director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, was quoted as saying.

Recommended dietary changes for those outside the normal range of triglycerides include: limiting added sugars to less than 5 percent to 10 percent of calories consumed (about 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men); limiting fructose from both processed foods and naturally-occurring foods (less than 50 to 100 grams per day); limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of total calories; limiting trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories; and limiting alcohol, especially if triglyceride levels are higher greater than 500 mg/dL.

All patients with triglyceride levels in the borderline to high range (150-199 mg/dL) or greater are also encouraged to incorporate physical activities of at least moderate intensity (such as brisk walking) for a total of at least 150 minutes per week because these activities may contribute an additional 20-30 percent triglyceride-lowering effect. Combining all of these lifestyle measures is likely to have the most pronounced effect -- 50 percent or greater in reducing triglyceride levels.

In the United States, nearly one-third (31 percent) of adults have elevated triglyceride levels (more than 150 mg/dL). The percentage varies by ethnicity and is highest among Mexican-Americans at 36 percent. Whites have the second-highest rate at 33 percent, while blacks have the lowest at 16 percent. Of concern is that triglyceride levels continue to rise in young adults (aged 20-49), and this mirrors the increased rates of obesity and diabetes identified at earlier ages.

SOURCE: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, published online April 18, 2011