Sure, there are medications for high triglycerides…
But you can also lower your triglycerides – without a single pill!*
It’s your birthday. And your spouse decides to treat you to a steak dinner.
There you are, juicy steak in front of you. You’re enjoying it, but you feel like you shouldn’t be eating fat or red meat.
So you don’t finish the steak and decide to top up with the bread and potato instead.
Your blood triglycerides will gradually start climbing on the drive home. Past midnight and almost till morning.
No, it wasn’t the steak. It was the bread and potatoes.
Betcha didn’t expect that!
You’re at your annual physical and your doctor is not happy with your high triglyceride number.
Your doctor won’t know WHY your triglycerides are high. That’s not their business. Doctors are fixers. You give them a problem. And they’ll fix it.
He or she knows that it is high and, by golly, they will get it down.
Lovaza is the prescription fish oil for triglycerides. It works. If you take the recommended dosage of 4 pills a day, your triglyceride will drop about 30%. If you add statin drugs to the mix, you will see your triglycerides drop by almost 50%. Not bad!
Symptom = High Triglycerides
Solution = Lovaza
This is what most doctors do – treat symptoms. Our entire medical system is based on treating symptoms. The underlying cause or pathology is never explored.
Doctors don’t have the time and prevention is not profitable.
So don’t expect your primary care physician to hold your metaphorical high triglycerides up to the light, scratch his head and go,
‘Hmm. Why does this patient have this problem?
What could be causing it?
And what can we do to prevent this from happening?’
Doctors rarely delve into the ‘why.’
Just remember that our medical system treats symptoms. Not prevention or cause.
Prevention and cause are your responsibilities.
Nutrition Advice…from Your Doctor?
To be fair, most doctors will briefly lecture you on eating less junk food, fat and meat. More whole grains and more exercise. This is the current state of nutritional awareness.
I agree with the less junk food and more exercise parts. But the part about avoiding all meats and fats is not based on facts.
This is the realm of nutritionists and dietitians and more often than not, even they will give you the ‘Low-fat-more-whole-grains’ diet. To which I say, ‘How’s that workin’ out for ya?’
I’ve never seen anyone’s high triglycerides lowered with a low-fat-high-whole-grain diet.
Why Low-Fat Diets Don’t Reduce Triglycerides*
It has to do with what happens after you eat low-fat foods. If you take the fat out of foods (think SnackWell cookies), they are typically replaced with sugars.
Let’s take ‘healthy whole grains’ for example, a staple of the long-in-the-tooth low-fat diet fad. After you eat a bagel, an enzyme called amylase breaks down the carbohydrate in the bagel into glucose molecules.
(I’m simplifying this to make a point.)
The glucose then gets moved to your liver, where the it gets converted to triglycerides (fat). It’s your body’s way of saving for a rainy day because your body never knows if it will ever be fed again. Triglycerides are stored as fat so they can be tapped for future use.
This is why that slice of bread and the mashed potato from your birthday dinner increased your triglyceride levels.
‘What about the steak?’ you ask. Yes, it has triglycerides ALREADY IN IT. A different enzyme (pancreatic lipase) is involved. And it too will increase your blood triglycerides. But only a little compared to bread!
There is a difference between eating meats and fatty foods which already have triglycerides in them versus eating foods that get converted to triglycerides. A huge difference!
Sweet and starchy foods that get converted to glucose and then into triglycerides in your liver really spike triglyceride levels.
* Clinical research suggests the omega-3 dosage needed to help maintain healthy triglycerides is 2000-4000 mg per day when used as part of healthy diet and exercise regimen. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
To give you hint of what’s coming up in Part 2, see this video by Dr. David Diamond, a neuroscientist from the University of South Florida. It may be shocking, but it is worth your time, I promise you.
Part 2 – find out how the author reduced his triglyceride levels by 400 points.
Hi Santosh – no meat + very little oils + rice + wheat = a very high carbohydrate diet = high triglycerides. Makes perfect sense. Increase protein, increase healthy fats, increase vegetables and cut down on everything else.
Hi Woody – I’m sitting here shaking my head after reading about your experience. The fat and meat-phobias of the 80s and 90s are slowly going away. It took generations of misinformation to get here and it will probably take a generation or two get back to normal. The low-fat, high whole grain phase we’re at the tail end of, will have been the most dangerous experiment conducted on humanity ever.
Doctors are often the last people to talk to about nutrition. They’ve had about 2 hours of training on the subject. Sadly, dietitians are not much better. I personally know a few intelligent dietitians who smartly eat a high (healthy) fat diet at home with their families but when they go to work at their hospitals, they recommend low-fat diets to heart patients…because they want to keep their jobs.
Having said all that, the old school Atkins leaves a bit to be desired. For it to work well, you need to add a lot more veggies and some safe starches like sweet potato (to keep your probiotics bugs in your gut happy). Make sure you don’t go too low-carb. Low-to-moderate carbs will probably work fine.
Hello Mr Kutty,
Unlike comedian WC Fields before me, who purportedly spent his last hours laying in bed reading the bible “looking for loopholes”, I am trying to undo a lifetime of consistently bad nutritional behavior and avoid loophole indignities of my own down the road.
I watched the USF video of neuroscientist David Diamond with much interest. Admittedly, I have heard mention over the years the “new/old” dietary protocols he is mooting, but from no one possessing quite his juice-card. Speaking for myself, any activity followed by an “MD” sobriquet, is reason enough to count my fingers and check my wallet. This cliche was clearly and sadly corroborated in the video. Again, the loud unspoken message is, we are ultimately responsible. Any dilution of that fact is the degree of personal accountability one decides to embrace and “live with”.
Since I decided that I primarily need to be concerned with years of inflammation and issues of cognitive decline, do the profferings of Dr Diamond seem reasonable? I agree with a regimen of (gasp) no sugar, grains–whole, part or otherwise, veg oils, etc. ad nauseum. However, this meat-fat prevalent diet may be good news from a cardiology standpoint, but does that translate to good brain health? I’m not so sure how many more Get Out Jail Free cards I have coming before cognitive impairment presents–mild, subjective or otherwise.
Lastly, this link may be of interest: Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program-AGING Journal:
Thank you, Bill
Hi Bill – thank for your very thoughtful and eloquent note.
You are absolutely right – we are ultimately responsible for our health. Having said that, I do not follow Dr. Diamond’s protocol. A high protein + high fat diet will wreak havoc on your gut microbiome, which we now know to be a crucial part of our health. If you decide to beat down metabolic disorder with a sugar and grain free diet, please make sure that you consume plenty of vegetables to feed your gut bugs. This is a change I’d make to Dr. Diamond’s approach. Some people also mess up their thyroid and adrenals on very low carb diets. But he is right, as contrary as it sounds, it will make you lose weight and drop your blood lipids like a rock.
If you’re concerned about brain and cognitive health, read Dr. Perlmutter’s work. He is another low-carber, but of this decade…in that he goes to great lengths to preserve and nourish the microbiome.
Lose the sugar, lose the grains, but keep all the veggies, including some tubers and root veggies.
I have no clue where to start to lower my triglycerides. Yes, I have been very lax with my diet and I have been up and down in weight for many years. My issue is maintaining the weight when I reach it. I went to the doctor and he wanted to throw me on pills. My Triglycerides are at 320. Reading about this, all this requires is a life style change. I want to add oatmeal to my diet. I cut out soda, candy, cakes, cookies… mash potatoes. Basically anything that is white. I still eat my meat… at moderation, and my eggs. I have upped my intake of veggies. I hear conflicted arguments about oatmeal and Triglycerides. Can I eat oatmeal? that would be the serving size once a day? Thanks for your help. oh yeah I am also taking my fish oil again too!
Hi Josh – dont focus on weight. That’s a surefire way to get in trouble and do the wrong things. Focus on diet. Yes, this requires a lifestyle change. There is no sugar-coating that. Don’t eat oatmeal! Oats are grains. And grains increase triglycerides. Eat lots of veggies, meats, eggs, seafood, fruits, and nuts. A lot more veggies than fruits. When i say ‘eat veggies and fruits,’ people have a habit of hearing ‘eat fruits.’ Get your carbs from veggies and fruits. A little mashed potato occasionally is fine. Potato is a vegetable – a little in moderation is OK.
Thanks for your answer. It is good to see that I am finally getting somewhere. I love my meat, and I am currently doing a lot of portion control. I also do my green smoothies as well. I don’t snack on fruit all of the time, but I do have a banana in my smoothie in the morning. lunch I am eating more of a turkey meat… not lunch meat but the ground stuff with a big plate of veggies. for dinner I have been doing a smoothie with no fruit. my body seems to be responding well to this. Your right about the weight… that will come when I keep reaching my fitness goals. I have grown to love spinach too! Again, thanks for your answer! I appreciate some one who can give sound advice!
Hi Louise – read both parts of this article. In a nutshell, eliminate sodas, juices, and sugar to start and then eliminate or reduce all grains and flour. Exercise will help a lot too.
Hallo Mr. Kutty,
I am 55 yrs male, with height of 5′.6″ and weighing 63. Kg. I had heart attack 10 years ago and I was prescribed statin , beta lockers and aspirin. My blood sugar is normal.
My latest lipid profile is as under:
Serum cholesterol: 275 mg
Triglycerides: 212 mg
HDL – C Estimation: 45 mg
Cholesterol/ HDL Raito: 6.11
VLDL: 42.4 MG
LDL – C ESTIMATION: 202 mg
My cardiologist has increased the statin from 20 mg ( rosovin 20 mg) to 40 mg.
I am already experiencing muscle pains and do not wish to continue with statin.
I regularly do walking for 45 mints. do moderate strength exercise on daily basis. My diet is small quantity wheat bread (2 rotis per meal) lots of vegetable and small quantity of rice with lentils. I do not consume any sweets.
In spite of precautions my TC and cholesterol reports are not satisfactory.My cardiologist is against stopping statin.
Should I change my diet drastically to improve lipid readings or continue with statins.
Thanks in Advance
Hi Anil – I cannot give medical advice. Discuss with your doctor.
But I recommend a diet that’s 80% non-starchy vegetables and 20% meat, eggs, fish. No sugar, grains, or juices.
My triglycerides are at 436. I am a vegetarian. What is the diet you suggest?
Thanks for this wonderful blog
Hi Aswin – consider eliminating sugar and grains from your diet. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and fish are ideal if you do not eat meat.
Hello, are beans ok to take while on a triglycerides lowering diet? Thank you.
Hi Mary – yes, if you are not allergic to them. Beans are considered low-glycemic foods (does not impact blood sugar dramatically), so it is probably OK. But green leafy vegetables, meats, and olive oils and other healthy fats are best.
Hi Sandeep – yes, garbanzo, beans and lentil are fine.
Thanks for the information. After reading several of your posts, there are some queries hoping you can help to clarify. I am trying to cut down both triglyceride and blood sugar:
– does this diet of vege loaded and no grains help with blood sugar as well?
– i normally have chocolate drink in the morning. Doctor recommends to replace it with oat/oatbran which contains beta glucan and supposedly will help reduce cholesterol. Is this ok? Is cholesterol anyhow relates to triglyceride?
– raw vege (raw or boiled) vs cooked vege (eg with olive oil), which is better?
Thanks again. D
Hi Damon – yes, high veggie + low grain diet will help lower blood sugar. Changing from chocolate drink to oats is, in my opinion, going from regular cigarettes to filtered cigarettes. Oats will spike up your blood sugar and your triglycerides. Raw vs cooked is your preference – but raw generally contains more nutrients.
My triglycerides are 368 and I’m 5”6, 154 lbs, 27 years old and my doctor want to check my blood in 5-6 months. If it possible to lower it to at least 150 by that time?
Hi Carlos – you can certainly lower it down from your current number. How low it is in 6 months depends on how strict you are with your diet and exercise.
Thoughts on dates? Since honey and maple syrup are out any suggestions to sweeten?
Hi Celeste – definitely ‘NO!’ on dates – they are almost all sugar. Sugar craving/addiction is real and strong. It takes 2-3 weeks to break the habit. And it is very easy to go back to square one after re-introduction.
Hi KWS – I have not run into people with CoQ10 allergy. Not a single person, in the 20+ years I’ve been doing this. After all, CoQ10 is made by your body in small quantities. If you’re allergic to anything, it may be one of the inactive/carrier ingredients. Or something in the fish oil. CoQ10 itself won’t lower your triglycerides, but if you are on a statin, it is important to take CoQ10 because statins wipe out CoQ10, an essential part of keeping your heart muscles pumping.
My suggestion is to try another CoQ10 item. Nothing beats high triglyceride like lowering carbs and sugar paired with heavy exercise.
My tryglycerides level has been consistently in level of 500-700..what type of diet should i take??
Hi Tarun – follow the guidelines in Part 1 and 2 of this post.
I had pancreatitis 12 years ago and almost died my triglycerides were in the thousands. Did well for a long itme but overeating recently and they are up to 2,800. Started on Vescepa. Doing low carb diet. What else should I do. Worried my pancreas will shut down again. I am diabetic type 2 and hypothyroid. Is Vescepa good>
Hi Jennifer – Vascepa is a prescription drug for lowering high triglycerides. Since it is a drug (and not a supplement), only your doctor can advise you on whether it’s the appropriate course of action. If you’ve read Parts 1 and 2 of this article, you know exactly what you need to do with your diet. I’d find a dietician near you to help you craft a diet plan and to give you the support you need to stay with the prescribed diet. However, I’d add that you should not overlook the role of regular, high intensity exercise.
Hey, my query: the shipping of omega 3 cap and the varying temperature during transit will make the pills go rancid at the time of delivery which will be a month’s time.
Hi Lily – if the product is not rancid to begin with, then the shipping duration should be fine…assuming the product isnt left out in the sun or in a vehicle that is parked in the sun.
Thank you. Can you please tell me the omegavia EPA 500mg is it rTG form or EE form many customers from Amazon reviews say it’s EE Form even after 2019 any substantiate records to back rTG form?
Hi Lily – it is rTG.
Here is a link to IFOS Testing http://www.nutrasource.ca/files/IFOS%20Report%20Innovix%20Pharma%20Inc.%20OmegaVia%20EPA%20500,%20lot%20OV190680.pdf
My triglycerides went up from 140 to 165 using Garden of Life’s Minami EPA Platinum once a day for several months. I’m a type 2 diabetic that is fairly well controlled. Exercising is lacking but not eating lots of carbs. I just purchased Omegavia 500 with hopes that it will help with modifying my diet some more and getting back in the gym. Does your product differ from Minami? My doctor was surprised my triglycerides went up.
Hi Scott – the Garden of Life EPA product is very similar to OmegaVia EPA 500. Both have about 500 mg of EPA Omega-3. You should expect similar results from both.
When you say ‘once a day,’ do you mean one capsule a day? If that is what you did, then you were taking barely-placebo level dosage. Triglyceride management protocol is vigorous exercise + sugar-free, lower-carb diet + 3000 to 4000 mg of Omega-3 per day. The triglyceride uptick from 140 to 165 is fairly minor and could mean you ate a little more sugar/carbs or your exercised a little less.
Also, you’re starting with a moderately low TG level. If you had triglyceride level of, say, 500, then the protocol described above will dramatically drop your numbers. Given your borderline TG levels, the same protocol will not drop your TG levels that much.
Dosage and starting triglyceride levels make all the difference.
Thanks for your response and advice. I was taking the Minami Platinum one capsule per day. What I forgot to add is my A1C did go up from 6.0 to 6.2, so you’re probably right that lack of exercise and diet are contributing factors. I still plan to take Omegavia 500 2-4 capsules per day for mood issues with hope that my TG will come slightly down.
Hi Scott – that makes sense. If your A1c went up by 0.2 points, it makes sense that your triglyceride levels went up a bit as well. If I had an A1c of 6.2, my goal would be sugar and flour elimination. Triglyceride and most other things will likely fall into place once the A1c is in the 5s.