Triglycerides and Diet
When it comes to triglycerides, foods have a direct impact on blood triglyceride levels. Definitely, what you eat
does affect your serum lipids; therefore, the first line of treatment for high triglycerides is a change in diet.
To begin with, however, you need to decide which diet to choose—the not so easy task, especially for those
who have little time for meals. Since triglycerides are circulating forms of fat in the blood, you might think that
; a high-fat diet will raise your triglycerides and
; a low-fat diet would lower your triglycerides.
This is true. However, according to recent evidence, the most important dietary precursor of triglycerides appears to be carbohydrates—namely, sugars, starches and refined grains. In other words, what leads to an increase in blood triglycerides are mainly diets high in carbohydrates, especially sugar (American
Association for Clinical Chemistry).
In fact, the effects of a high carbohydrate diet on the triglyceride synthesis by the liver—the major source of
blood triglycerides exclusive of chylomicrons—have been known for a long time (J Clin Invest. 1968 April; 47
Basic Eating Plan for High Triglycerides
Within the diet itself, sugar and alcohol have the greatest influence on triglycerides. Therefore, when it comes
to lowering your blood triglycerides, you should:
ELIMINATE or LIMIT:
ALL sugars such as
o concentrated sweets: table sugar (sucrose), cane sugar, brown sugar, Turbinado sugar,
Demerara sugar, powdered sugar, honey, syrups (especially high fructose corn syrup as a
substitute sweetener for sucrose-table sugar added to fruit juices, sodas, and other beverages),
preserves, molasses, jams, jellies, and candies
o sugary desserts/baked goods: pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, frosting, pastries, doughnuts, ice
cream, frozen yogurt, and regular or sweetened gelatin
o beverages: fruit juices, fruit drinks, fruit punches, regular sodas, carbonated pop, colas, aid
drinks, smoothies, sports drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, mocha, and chocolate drinks
o high-sweet and sweet fruits (fresh or dried): grapes (red and green), raisins, plums, figs, dates,
pineapples, apricots, melons (cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons), bananas, oranges
o other foods: sweetened cereals, flavored yogurts, and sports or energy bars
Alcohol such as
o hard liquor
o liqueurs (usually sweetened alcoholic liquors) and cordials.
PLEASE NOTE: A reduction of alcohol intake is crucial in keeping triglycerides in check—just one drink can
increase triglycerides in susceptible people. If you have elevated triglycerides and consume alcohol—a
reduced intake or not drinking alcohol at all is strongly advised.
o red meat, especially pork and fried, changing it to broiled or roasted poultry (turkey, chicken),
preferably free-range, and fish.
o dark green leafy vegetables.
By all means, this is NOT another deprivation diet! Although the food “restrictions” advised to help you lower
triglycerides may seem hard, it is heartening to realize you can achieve astonishing results without the risky
drugs most conventional doctors recommend—if you put your mind to it!
However, after your triglyceride level goes back to normal, you should follow a modified sugar and alcohol diet for the rest of your life.
Advanced Eating Plan for High Triglycerides
It is necessary to change your food habits and preferences by paying more attention to the type, amount, and quality of the foods you eat. Re-educating your taste buds and re-programming your dietary patterns is not
actually hard to do—if you do it right. One good way to do that—although this may require some
preplanning—is to make
; your new food preferences delicious, and
; the experience fun.
Here are the optimal dietary guidelines to which you should give serious consideration. At first, they may seem hard to follow. However, you do not have to make yourself a social outcast with most of your family and
friends, by following all recommendations to the letter.
AVOID (as much as possible):
o sugar (in ALL forms)—once again, limiting sugar is CRITICAL!!!
o trans fatty acids (all fried foods and margarine, and many other “trans-fat” foods),
o artificial sugar, such as aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal) and sucralose (Splenda)—for general
o MSG—artificial chemical (it may not be listed in ingredients)—for general health, and
o all artificial preservatives and chemicals, if possible—for general health.
How Much Sugar Are You Getting Daily?
A wide variety of sugars with different names are used today in the food preparation process. Table sugar and maple syrup (which are very unhealthful) are no longer the only sweeteners in our diet.
We all know some of the guises of sugar such as sucrose, fructose, maple syrup, molasses. But what about
dextrose, turbinado, amazake, sorbitol, carob powder, and high fructose corn syrup?
As a result of all sorts of sugars poured into more products every year by the makers of processed foods,
Canadians, for example, eat about 23 teaspoons of added sugar every day. But that only includes refined, processed sugars, honey and maple syrup. What those 23 teaspoons, translated into 92 grams of sugar, do
not include are all the other added sugars we’re getting daily from:
; corn sweeteners—the main ingredient in pop (soda), and
; fruit juices.
Add up all those sugars and some people are eating more than half their body weight in sugars every
year. It is a serious concern around the world.
A report released recently by the World Health Organization (WHO) urges people to limit their daily consumption of free sugars to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake (Diet Nutrition and the
Prevention of Chronic Diseases; TRS916).
“Free sugars” in this report include:
; sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices, and
; refined, processed sugars from cane, beet and corn added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or
In North America, however, this report prompted a harsh reaction from the sugar lobby.
Why Sugar and Alcohol?
Sugar is very harmful to human health! Unfortunately, many people are actually addicted to sugar, and this includes grains, which are rapidly broken down into sugar in your body.
In order to free yourself of the physical addiction, complete avoidance of all sugar and grains is necessary.
Complete abstinence resolves the biochemical addiction; however, it will be very important to eat every two
hours during this transition to avoid symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is usually necessary for several days to several weeks.
Both sugar and alcohol are a source of excess calories which are being turned into fat—usually, triglycerides,
so the fat levels in your blood go up. But that’s only part of the story. Researchers have found that apart from adding calories to the diet, alcohol also prevents the burning of fat.
According to a Swiss study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, booze in the
bloodstream can slow down fat metabolism more than 30 percent. Plus, alcohol drinkers don’t just drink alcohol; usually, they have it with chips or peanuts.
When alcohol (ethanol) is present in the blood, the liver prioritizes removing alcohol from the blood over other
The liver can detoxify about one ounce of alcohol (distilled spirits) per hour, which is about 1 serving of an alcoholic beverage (equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine). In the meantime, however, glucose tends to be further processed into triglycerides, which raises their blood levels (some drinks may contain fruit, syrups, or other additives that increase their carbohydrate count and, thus, triglyceride levels).
Alcohol Worse Than Sugar!
Alcohol reduces the amount of the enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and spurs the liver to make more triglycerides.
Some people have increased susceptibility to developing raised triglycerides in response to alcohol. So if you do not require insulin, or are not diabetic, and consume alcohol regularly, you may be able to lower your elevated triglycerides just by avoiding alcohol.
By taxing the liver and reducing the ability to detoxify blood, alcohol causes more harm to blood vessels. When the liver is busy processing alcohol, it is less able to process cholesterol. As a result, LDL or ”bad” cholesterol levels go up.
In addition, alcohol will potentiate the toxicity of cholesterol-lowering medications much more than the drugs would do alone. Actually, this is the major problem with the statins.
By drinking alcohol daily, you may increase your chances of serious statin side effects, especially liver problems. Therefore, to protect your liver, you should go easy on alcohol or avoid it completely while taking a statin.
This brings up two general misconceptions about beer drinking:
; First, that beer is harmless, because it’s only 5 percent alcohol, compared to 40 percent for whiskey.
Not quite so. Keep in mind, there’s as much alcohol in a can beer as in a shot of whiskey. Additionally, regular beer contains both alcohol and carbohydrates
; Second, consuming the beer over a long period of time will have little effect on one’s sobriety.
Not so. It takes hours for the body to eliminate even small amounts of alcohol. So, if you are a six-pack-a-day person, by the time you pop the last can at the end of the day, your blood alcohol level may be dangerously high.
However, you must consider the calories added to the diet by regular alcohol use. For example, in one
study, half a bottle of white wine (39 g ethyl alcohol) consumed daily for 42 days represented the equivalent of 3 lbs of additional weight over 6 weeks, or approximately 27 lbs per year! (Lancet. 1983; ii: 819-82).
Although there are many health experts that feel drinking alcohol is fine in moderation, this hypothesis needs to be verified and thoroughly tested. Alcohol, however, has a very narrow therapeutic window and too much can lead to hypertension and stroke.
The alcohol itself is actually a neurotoxin having many directly negative neurological complications. In other
words, it can poison your brain. Additionally, alcohol has the strong potential to seriously disrupt your delicate hormone balance. Therefore, drinking alcohol, especially hard liquor, liqueurs and beer, shouldn’t even be an issue.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Although it is possible to stay close to a diet free of simple carbohydrates, high-fructose corn syrup, and refined
sugars, most of us slip a little here and there. We go out for an ice cream on a summer evening. We order something in a restaurant that we’re pretty sure is high in sugar. Or someone offers us a soft drink and we
By and large, a dietary slip now and then won’t hurt most of us. The problem comes when a transgression from a healthy diet turns into daily transgressions. These days it’s hard to avoid fructose because it’s used as
a sweetener in a wide variety of processed foods, especially in sodas and other types of soft drinks.
However, a new study in a recent issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2004:Vol. 89,
No. 6) reveals how even moderate consumption of soft drinks causes “a rapid and prolonged elevation of
plasma (blood) triglycerides,” also having a profound impact on hormonal balance, hunger, calorie intake, obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A soda every now and then that turns into a 7-Eleven’s 32-ounce Big Gulp every day or a soda every few
hours, is a trend no one can afford to follow. If you are a “popacholic,” or if you are in the habit of drinking soft drinks, you are jeopardizing your health.
And even if you’re not in the habit of drinking soft drinks, check the labels of other foods you eat daily to make sure you’re not getting a hidden intake of fructose.
Nutritionally oriented doctors have known about the refined sugar-cancer association for decades. More than
70 years ago, Dr. Warburg won the Nobel Prize in medicine when he discovered that cancer cells require
glucose (sugar) for growth; they consume as much as 4 to 5 times more glucose than normal, healthy cells. In fact, cancer cells are unable to multiply rapidly without sugar.
The cells that are dividing (multiplying) the fastest have the highest requirement for energy (to sustain such accelerated growth). Therefore, cutting out the source (sugar) is similar to cutting off the blood supply; though not quite as drastic, it’s certainly a step worth taking.
It is simply astonishing that this simple knowledge—sugar feeds cancer—hasn’t become the basis for Rule
One in any cancer fight: Stop eating sugar immediately. Obviously giving up sugar is not the cure for cancer. But this tactic should be recommended STRONGLY to anyone, and especially someone with cancer or,
actually, ANY other illness or disorder.
What about the alternate sweeteners?
You wonder if one of the alternate sweeteners, such as stevia or xylitol, might also feed the cancer cells in the same way sugar does.
Stevia won’t, because it is zero-calorie. Xylitol could be more of a quandary. It does contain calories (about 40% less than sugar), and it is labeled a “sugar-alcohol.” Apparently, that status causes a slower release into
the body and less absorption. For that reason, it would be less of a problem, as it is not as strong as refined carbohydrates. How much less would be controversial, since the sugar-cancer cell growth issue itself is a tough one.
However, keep in mind that the body also breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, so a diet that is heavy with high carbohydrate foods can also fuel cancer cell growth as well as other health problems that are known to be linked to excess blood glucose, including:
; heart disease
; an overgrowth of pathogenic intestinal flora
; panic attacks
; hyperactivity, and
What About Eating Fish?
Fish, especially fatty fish, such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and wild Pacific
salmon, are the main predominant source of omega-3 oils—the essential fatty acids, so named because
without them we die.
More recent research has established that the most beneficial and active of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish
; DHA—short for docosahexaenoic (DOE-coe-suh-hex-uh-noy-ick) acid, and
; EPA—short for eicosapentaenoic (EE-coe-suh-pent-uh-noy-ick) acid.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 85 per cent of people in the Western world are deficient in beneficial
Not All Fruits and Vegetables Created Equal
Most of us aren’t eating fruits and vegetables that contain the most nutrients offering the best health benefits. Quite frankly, we are often confused about nutrition because we are given conflicting information.
Unfortunately, the most popular fruits and vegetables—corn, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples and
bananas—are NOT as rich in nutrients as other choices.
Here are color-coded suggestions for improving your nutritional intake from fruits and vegetables:
; White: Eat cauliflower more often than potatoes.
; Green: Eat more dark lettuces, such as romaine and red leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli and Brussels
sprouts instead of iceberg lettuce.
; Yellow/Orange: Instead of corn, grapes, or bananas, eat more yellow peppers, winter squashes or
; Red: Choose tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries over grapes and apples.
Five Food Types to Absolutely Avoid
The following foods are so bad for your body that there is not any reason to eat them. Not only do they have
zero nutritional value, but they also give your body quite a dose of toxins.
These “foods” are:
; fried in vegetable oils, high in trans fat (store-bought doughnuts contain 35-40 percent trans fat);
; high in sugar (an average doughnut contains about 200-300 calories, mostly from sugar, and almost no
other nutrients); and
; full of white flour (in most varieties).
Nutritionally speaking, eating a doughnut is one of the worst ways to start off your day. It will throw off your blood sugar and won’t stay with you so you’ll be hungry again soon. You’re better off eating no breakfast at all.
This kind of drink, both regular and “diet,” is:
; high in sugar (one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar—150 calories);
; high in caffeine (30 to 55 mg of caffeine per one can of soda);
; loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites; and
; filled with harmful artificial sweeteners like aspartame—NutraSweet, Equal (in the “diet” varieties).
Nutritionally speaking, drinking soda leads to nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay and heart disease; yet, the average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year! Especially threatening is the consumption of soft drinks among children. Unfortunately, schools often make marketing deals with leading soft drink companies in exchange for their students’ health (most school hallways are lined with soda-filled vending machines). One of the simplest and most profound health improvements you can make is to eliminate soda (pop) from your diet.
Nearly all commercially fried foods are:
; high in trans fat (potatoes cooked at high temperatures in vegetable oils);
; high in free radicals harmful to the body; and
; high in acrylamide (up to 82 mcg per serving), a potent cancer-causing chemical formed as a result of
unknown chemical reactions during high-temperature frying or baking.
Nutritionally speaking, consuming foods that are fried in vegetable oils contributes to aging, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain/obesity. One French fry is worse for your health than one cigarette, so
you may want to consider this before you make your next “Biggie” order.
Corn chips, potato, tortilla, and other chips are:
; high in trans fat (present in most commercial chips), and
; high in carcinogenic acrylamide (up to 25 mcg per serving).
Fried Non-Fish Seafood
Shrimps, clams, oysters, lobsters, and other seafoods are:
; high in trans fat,
; high in carcinogenic acrylamide,
; high in mercury, and
; contaminated with parasites and resistant viruses (which may not even be killed with high heat). Eating these scavenger animals gives you with every bite a quadruple dose of toxins.
Food Types to Favor
In your journey to a better health, there are quite a few food types to favor.
For beverages, drink mainly water. Among meats, fish is best, especially “safe,” or less contaminated, fish
such as summer flounder, wild (not farm-raised) Alaskan salmon, Arctic char, croaker, sardines, haddock, and tilapia.
Then, dark green vegetables. Especially, the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale,
mustard greens, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy) are foods to be favored. The other, so-called “cooking greens”—i.e. not cruciferous—include beet greens, dandelion greens, spinach, and Swiss
Are raw foods more nutritious than cooked foods? In general, yes, moderately so, as far as vitamins are concerned. However, the distinction between raw and cooked (but not “overcooked”) foods is probably not
The goal of this journey to better health is to devise each day’s food intake so as to optimize nutrition and minimize calories from carbohydrates—grains, legumes, starches and, of course, sugars.
There can be “off” days when you eat something from your old habits, but these should gradually be decreased until only about every tenth day is an “off” day at home.