I remember it like it was a few weeks ago (its been harder to say “I remember like it was yesterday” since I turned 40). I went in one particular year for a routine physical thinking it was going to be a breeze like the previous physicals. Except this time my doctor had a few more questions for me. I remember the surprise when she asked….”so are you still working out 5 days a week?” “Yes” was my answer. “Tell me about your diet”, she asked. “Well, I’ve been eating more ice cream over the last month.” “Like, how many times a week”, she asked. “Um, every night for dessert”, I answered. “Yeah, you need to stop doing that, your triglycerides are higher than normal!” Oh my gosh! What in the heck does that mean?!?! Lets take a look at what high triglycerides are before we get into the foods we can eat that may help with combating a case of high triglycerides.
What are High Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) stored in fat cells. Even though this is a fat, high triglycerides are usually a result of eating too many high carbohydrate foods; way more than can be burned off through activity. High triglycerides can also be a side effect of taking steroids, estrogen, beta blockers, and some HIV medications.
Normal triglyceride levels are considered to be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), borderline high is considered to be between 150 to 199 mg/dL, high is between 200 to 499 mg/dL, and very high is 500 or more milligrams per deciliter.
Even though your doctor may check for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test, triglycerides and cholesterol are two different types of lipids that have different roles. As I mentioned earlier that triglycerides are stored fat from unused calories, your body uses triglycerides for energy between meals whereas cholesterol is made by the body and used to make hormones, vitamin D, and build cells.
I want to be clear that regular exercise under the care of a credentialed professional may be the best way to lower triglycerides, but you cannot out work a bad diet. Food and eating habits can be triggers for high triglycerides. I have chosen three foods that I believe are more commonly acceptable by the mass majority, foods that I eat, and foods that research shows can have a positive effect on combating your high triglycerides.
*Disclaimer: Experts suggest that if your triglycerides are over 500 mg/dl, you will need to follow as special nutrition plan. This blog is not meant to replace that advice.
To combat your high triglycerides, your goal should be to make your plate look like this:
Salmon (Protein Foods)
Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fats, protein, and vitamin B-2 (riboflavin). From the research that I have found, you should seek more foods that are rich in omega-3 fats like those found in salmon. It is recommended that you eat at least 2-3 servings per week as studies show that at least two servings of salmon a week significantly decreased blood triglycerides.
Brown Rice (100% Whole Grain) (Starchy Food)
Complex carbohydrates like brown rice the better carb to choose because it will help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent sugar spikes. Brown rice also contributes to your daily fiber goal (you have one right?). Studies show that getting 25-30 grams of fiber a day may help lower your triglycerides. Don’t forget that you are getting more carbs with more brown rice so make up your fiber intake with vegetables also.
Choosing broccoli will help you get your needed fiber, the benefits of phytochemicals that may reduce other disease risks, vitamins and nutrients, and complex carbohydrates.
What can you do with this great information I just gave you? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Provided you don’t have any allergies or health related issues with the three foods mentioned here and your doctor is okay with you eating these, your mission is to find exciting and healthy ways to eat these foods. Here are some of my favorite ways:
Salmon: I love my salmon grilled. Although the most common way I eat my salmon in support of my workout meal plan is Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon packs over brown rice with some olive oil drizzled over it. I dash it with a little salt and pepper and enjoy.
Brown Rice: I eat my brown rice mostly with salmon. I have to admit that brown rice is my complex carb of choice. I enjoy salmon over my brown rice with drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Broccoli: Broccoli is probably my favorite vegetable. It’s the one I think of first when my wife ask me to choose which vegetable I would like for dinner. I eat this with salmon and brown rice or as part of a good stir fry.
Brian "B-Rob" Robinson is a Certified Sports Nutrition Coach, Certified Life Strategies Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Youtuber, and co-founder of LEANWellonline. His YouTube channel is called thisisb-rob.
Raatz, S. K., Johnson, L. K., Rosenberger, T. A., & Picklo, M. J. (2016). Twice weekly intake of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) positively influences lipoprotein concentration and particle size in overweight men and women. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.), 36(9), 899–906. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2016.06.011
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. (2019). Nutrition | High Triglycerides. UW Health. https://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/nutrition/7543.html
UMass Medical School - Worcester. (2014, February 25). Retrieved from https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/Cardiovascular/handouts/lowering-triglycerides/
The Truth About Triglycerides. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=56&contentid=2967