Just like cholesterol, Triglycerides are created both naturally by our livers, and consumed through the foods we eat. The fat which is already stored in our body is made up triglycerides, and consuming foods which are high in these, can lead to even more of it being stored, posing several health risks, including high blood pressure, and heart disease. Triglycerides can be found in many types of foods, but the most common and typically the densest are meats, dairy and cooking oils. When these types of foods are consumed, the triglycerides are absorbed in the intestines, and transported through our bloodstream to our bodily tissues, where they either store as fat, or used to provide energy.
The body, when overloaded with more calories than it can use for energy, relies on the liver to naturally create triglycerides, which are then stored as fat. People who do not partake in a regular exercise regime will continue to build up excess stores of triglycerides, ultimately leading to weight gain and a chance of obesity.
When too many triglycerides are stored in the body, the chances of developing a life threatening disease such as coronary heart disease are increased. Cholesterol, as well as many other factors also plays a part in determining whether your chance of developing a disease from high levels of triglycerides, are high, or low. When HDL (the beneficial stuff!) levels are low, our body will create and store more and more triglycerides, consequently leading to larger risks of developing a problem. Anything below 1.0 (mmol/l) is considered low, so regular blood tests are recommended to make sure you don’t fall below this level, unrecognized.
LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff!) is also responsible for increasing the health risks posed by triglycerides. If levels of triglycerides are high, the LDL particles become smaller, meaning they diffuse into the arteries quicker, and easier. This increase in cholesterol particles in the blood stream could lead to a bigger build-up of arterial plaque, increasing blood pressure and increasing the chances of an unexpected stroke. Keeping LDL levels as low as possible, and HDL levels as high as possible will help prevent this.
Triglyceride levels are peaked immediately after eating a meal which is high in dietary fats, so avoid having your levels tested after a large meal. Obviously, the higher the levels of triglycerides in your body, the higher the risk of developing a heart problem, so eating large meals which are high in fat will spike your triglyceride levels to those of which are unsafe, so to prevent any unexpected problems, it is recommended to spread your dietary fats across the day, instead of consuming large amounts in just one meal.
Triglyceride levels are easily tested by a simple blood test which can be carried out by your local GP. To ensure your readings are reliable and are not influenced by any unexpected spikes, it is recommended to fast for 8-12 hours prior to the test. Water is fine to consume during the fast, but if you decide to eat any types of foods, remember the readings may not be completely accurate.