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What are Triglycerides?

What are triglyceridesTriglycerides, which are produced in the liver, are another type of fat found in the blood and in food. Causes of raised triglycerides are being overweight/obese, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol intake, and a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent of calories or higher).

Recent research indicates that triglyceride levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200-499 mg/dL) may increase your risk of heart disease. Levels of 500 mg/dL or higher is one of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms — a large waist measurement (greater than 35 inches for women; 40 inches or more for men), triglycerides 150 mg/dL or higher; an HDL cholesterol of less than 50 mg/dL for women and less than 40 mg/dL for men; a blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher; and a fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL​​​ or higher. Having metabolic syndrome increases your risk for heart disease.

The syndrome isn't a disease itself but a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and other disorders, such as diabetes. One risk factor alone increases your chance of developing heart disease — having a group of them boosts your risk more. This is true even though some of the factors in the metabolic syndrome may be at levels below those for full-fledged heart disease risk factors. In fact, research indicates that having the metabolic syndrome can raise your chance of developing heart disease and diabetes even if your LDL cholesterol isn't elevated.

To reduce blood triglyceride levels: control your weight, be physically active, don't smoke, limit alcohol intake, and limit simple sugars such as candy, cookies, cake, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Sometimes, medication is also needed.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kitchen Tip of the Month

Peeling a garlic clove can be a hassle. Buy pre-peeled and minced garlic. The pre-peeled garlic, so long as you buy it fresh, will last for weeks in the refrigerator and despite what some chefs may tell you, it tastes just fine.