When you have high blood triglycerides…….

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Triglyceride is natures molecule to store fat in your body stores- adipocytes (fat storing cells), and are distributed in every part of your body, including- the skin (subcutaneous) to keep you warm, give shape to the body, provide hormones, and differentiate sex. Female distribution of such fat is to attract men giving them that sexy look.

Triglycerides are composed of an ester formed from glycerol and three fatty acid groups. Fatty acids are attached to each of the three carbons of the glycerol molecule. They are the main constituents of natural body fat as mentioned earlier and oils you use for cooking.

Now, an ester means an organic compound made by replacing the hydrogen (H) or OH (hydroxyl) of an acid by an alkyl or other organic group. Many naturally occurring fats in your body and cooking oils are esters of fatty acids.

All fats in your body are derived from the fats and starches in the diet. Vegetables have very little fatty acids, and more you eat, less fat will accumulate as triglycerides in your body. You need to limit the starchy foods like corn, potatoes and peas, so that the body will not convert the extra starch into triglycerides. Eat plenty of dark green veggies like kale, crucifers like cauliflower, and mushroom.
Read the labels before you purchase foods including canned stuff. For instance, baked beans you buy have lot of added sugar. Switch to other beans that have no added sugar.

Beware of eating too much of pasta, noodles, white bread, white rice and cereals: they can increase your triglycerides. Do not eat them in excess. Be aware of canned fish. They are packed with olive oil, sunflower or soybean oil. Buy the one packed in brine (salt water).

Most soda drinks and beverages including coke, have high quantities of sugar or corn syrup. If you have high blood triglycerides, it is advisable to restrict these drinks with added sugar and stick to water with added lemon slice, much more refreshing. If you have high levels of triglycerides limit your portions of fruit. Limit to just one or to pieces of fruit a day.

Saturated fats in red meat, dairy products including coconut oil: unsaturated fats in olive oil, canola and other popular cooking oils – all break down into fatty acids in your gut, removed through your lymphatic system (lacteals) and excess stored in your fat cells (adipocytes), and liver (causing fatty livers).

Whether the fatty acids are derived from saturated fats supposed to harm, and not heart friendly, or the unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola, corn and so on, praised for heart friendliness and other health benefits- as propaganda generated by the big US big cats, all form triglycerides and stored as one kind of triglycerides. There are no good and bad triglycerides as you define good and bad cholesterol.

So, do not believe that olive oil is a better health oil than coconut oil. They are all the same when digested and stored as triglycerides.  Use all oils sparingly as possible for better health, control obesity and other ill-effects.

One of the many advantages of coconut oil is that the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) having eleven carbon atoms in each chain of fatty acids, is totally metabolised in the liver, without being stored in fat cells.

On the contrary olive oil recommended as the best healthy oil by the Mediterranean’s, have longer chain fatty acids in the form of oleic, linolenic, linoleic acids and palmitic acid. Oleic acid besides being beneficial to help insulin sensitivity, is a very fattening fatty acid having 18 carbon atoms in the chain, is a monounsaturated fat and makes up to 55-83% of the olive oil. It also has palmitic acid a 16-carbon chain fatty acid considered a saturated fat that makes up 7.5 to 20 % of olive.

Coconut oil when metabolized in the liver is totally used and as such does not add to your fattening calories, whilst oleic acid in olive oil makes you fat (high calories) and not recommended if you are watching your weight. In the US. coconut oil is popular in weight reducing diets.

Coconut oil and meat has anti-microbial properties. The antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties of the medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) in coconut oil are beneficial to kill certain disease producing microbes. Olive oil has no such beneficial properties.

Now what are Glycerol- Glycerol is a carbohydrate that can be made in the body from glucose and obtained through the diet as a food additive. Glycerol is found as a sweetener, thickener, solvent and preservative in your food. Glycerol is considered like the Christmas tree with room for decorations with three ornaments. Those ornaments are the fatty acids from your food.

So, now you understand how starches and other carbs you consume in your diet impacts your level of fat accumulation in your body. You know the story that when the Americans were advised to cut down on foods containing fat, they started substituting with high carb diets, resulting in an epidemic of obesity. So, remember both carbs and fats are stored as triglycerides in your body. Reduce both in your diet if you wish to control your body weight, blood triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome among diabetics.

Consuming more than a drink or two of any alcohol daily will drive up your triglycerides in your blood. The reason being that there is too much of sugar in wines, beer or any spirits.

Why are triglycerides harmful?
You are always told how harmful excess cholesterol in your blood and the big Pharma’s’ is promote their statins to control it. Triglycerides are more harmful and little publicity is given, and most people are not aware of it .

High triglycerides in your blood causes plaques build up as much as LDL cholesterol. If you have high triglycerides, you are more likely to have high bad cholesterol in your blood. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) I the US, women are especially at risk of heart disease if they have high triglycerides in their blood.

High triglycerides in your blood is a gateway and a risk factor to other chronic diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and stroke. Very high triglyceride levels in your blood can lead to acute pancreatitis.

This is a condition where the pancreas gets inflamed resulting in unbearable excruciating pain in the upper part of your abdomen. Doctors do a serum amylase test on the blood to diagnose.
In addition to very high triglycerides, pancreatitis can be caused by chronic alcoholism, gallstones cystic fibrosis and certain medications.

Normal triglycerides levels in your blood should be less than 150 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) or less than 1.7 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)
In very high range it could go above 500 mg/dl- 5.7 mmol. /L

To check your cholesterol levels in your blood fasting is not required anymore. But, to check your blood triglyceride level fasting for 12 hours give accurate results. Women should not have their triglycerides during menstrual cycle. It is best to stop exercise for 24 hours before having a blood test for triglyceride levels,

Triglycerides are carried mostly in VLDL cholesterol
In the plasma lipids are composed of not only good and the bad cholesterol and triglycerides, but also another very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) produced in the liver. VLDL seems to carry almost all the blood triglycerides. 85 % of VLDL seems to be triglycerides. Their function is to carry triglycerides from the liver to avoid fatty accumulations in the liver and cause a fatty liver. VLDL carries the triglycerides from the liver to be stored in the adipose tissue or for use in skeletal muscle.

Bottom line
Take notice of your blood triglyceride level as much as the notice you give for cholesterol. Keep your triglyceride level as low as possible with the measures described earlier.
If you keep your triglyceride level within the normal range, your risk of many diseases will be very low, and you are sure to lead a healthy long life.

Hope this article was useful to make you aware the importance of maintaining low triglyceride levels in your blood for health and longevity.

Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey): Government scholar to UK for further studies.

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