Understanding Triglycerides - How Important Is It?

By: Mary Bodel

Triglycerides are how fats are moved around in the body. They are found in all types of fats, whether plant or animal. While excessive numbers are bad for us, we're encouraged to eat at least some. These fats can create twice the energy found in carbohydrates and protein. In fact, some carbohydrates are turned into triglycerides.

High numbers are almost always associated with another medical condition, sort of as a side effect. For instance, diabetics are likely to have higher triglyceride numbers than someone without it. Alcoholism may also cause the problem.

Why are high numbers bad? First, it may help clog arteries, which isn't a good thing. They are directly associated obesity and pancreatitis. Normal numbers are around 150 mgs. Borderline high is from 151 to 199 mgs. 200 to 499 is high and anything over that is very high.

There are things you can do to lower these numbers. Smoking and alcohol are two things that cause triglycerides to be high. Lack of exercise and a poor diet can also contribute, so a good exercise program and a sensible diet are necessary.

It might be a good idea to sit down with your doctor and ask him or her what to do to help keep your numbers under control. The doctor can look at your medical history and suggest exercises that are appropriate for you and any medical conditions you have.

The doctor may recommend a nutritionist to help you design a good diet. This isn't because you don't know how to balance a diet, it's because new studies are always being done and the nutritionist will be up on the latest information. Believe me, it can be a big help.

There are prescription medications that can help control triglycerides as well. If the problem isn't solved by the above changes and perhaps a little herbal help, they may be needed.

Vitamin B-3 may be helpful in lowering your numbers, as can artichoke leaves. Some studies indicate artichoke leaves can lower both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Care has to be taken if you are allergic to some plants, as you may also be allergic to the herb. If you are at risk for bile duct obstructions, you may want to skip it as well. There are some indications that the leaves can make it worse. Pregnant women and those breastfeeding should speak to their doctor before using this supplement. There are no known interactions at this point in time.