Dr. Brent: Understanding Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Q: My cholesterol levels are okay, but my triglycerides are off the charts. Does one balance the other?

A: Unfortunately, no. Triglycerides, a type of fat found in your bloodstream, haven't gotten the same attention as cholesterol, but unhealthy levels (over 200 mg) can increase your risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Lifestyle changes can reduce high triglyceride levels, however, as a recent issue of the "Harvard Heart Letter" points out.

1. Cut down on saturated and trans fats, and avoid sugary foods and refined grains.

2. Make whole grains and omega-3-rich fish staples of your diet.

3. Get regular exercise. If you're overweight, lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight.

4. For some people, alcohol dramatically increases triglyceride levels. If your levels are high, stop drinking alcohol for a few weeks and get your levels retested.

5. Certain supplements may be beneficial; talk to your doctor about fish oil and niacin.

Text by Dr. Brent Ridge

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