Triglycerides are a type of saturated fat found in your blood. Your body uses them for energy when you are in a fasting state. You are in a fasting state when you go without food for long periods (for instance, while you are sleeping) or when you eat a very low carbohydrate diet. Your body will always burn any sugar (carbohydrates) you eat before it burns the fat in your body.
These fats are necessary for good health. But a high blood level is associated with heart disease and atherosclerosis and most importantly, is a sign of insulin resistance. Basically that means if yours are elevated, you are eating too many carbohydrates on a daily basis.
You can get a measure of your levels with a blood test. Here is a reference with which to compare your test results:
- Normal is less than 150.
- Borderline-high is 150 to 199.
- High is 200 to 499.
- Very high is 500 or higher.
More importantly, you should know the ratio of the levels of these fatty acids in your blood as compared to the levels of your HDL cholesterol levels. This ratio is expressed as T/HDL. This ratio should be close to 1:1 ideally. So for instance, my last blood tests were as follows:
- Total Cholesterol: 219
- Total LDL: 140
- Total HDL: 61
- Triglycerides: 89
My T/HDL ratio is 89/61 = 1.46. This is good, but I’m aiming to get it lower. How do I do this?
Very simply, high triglyceride levels are caused by a high carbohydrate diet. In particular, high consumption of high fructose corn syrup will elevate the T/HDL ratio. High levels of these fats are also associated with a condition known as fatty liver.
Switching to a low carb, high saturated fat diet, will quickly drop the levels of these fats to normal levels.
Here’s a paper that supports that statement.
In my own experience, the more saturated fat I eat, and the lower my carbohydrate intake, the lower my T/HDL ratio. A high carb diet is also associated with elevated cholesterol, elevated blood glucose, elevated insulin, and is the primary cause of insulin resistance, all factors that affect your health as shown by blood test results.
Here are two stories that demonstrate the power of cutting carbohydrate intake to lower triglycerides:
Chuck’s story: This guy was diagnosed with diabetes and had a level of trigs over 1800. He transformed himself just by changing his diet.
Dr. Eades story: Dr. Eades discusses the first four patients he put on a lower carb diet and the astonishing changes that occurred in their blood work over very short time frames.