Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood.
After you eat, your body converts calories you don’t need into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells to be used for energy later.
While triglycerides are an important energy supply for your body, too many triglycerides in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease.
About 25 percent of adults in Europe have elevated triglycerides in their blood, which is classified as triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL.
Obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, regular alcohol use and a high-calorie diet can contribute to high levels of triglycerides in the blood.
Read below for 13 ways to reduce triglycerides in the blood naturally.
How to reduce triglycerides naturally
1. Strive for a healthy body weight
Whenever you eat more calories than your body needs, your body converts those calories into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells.
Working on a moderate body weight by consuming fewer calories can be an effective way to reduce blood triglyceride levels.
In fact, research has shown that losing even a modest 5-10% of your body weight can significantly reduce triglyceride levels.
While the goal is to keep weight loss in the long term, some studies have shown that losing weight can have a lasting effect on blood triglyceride levels, even if you regain some of the weight.
One older study focused on participants who dropped out of weight management programs. Although they had regained the weight they had lost 9 months before, their blood triglyceride levels remained 24-26% lower.
2. Limit sugar intake
Added sugar is a big part of many people’s diets.
Although it is not recommended to consume more than 10% of daily calories in added sugar per day, studies show that the average European consumes about 14-17% per day.
Added sugar is usually found in sweets, soft drinks and fruit juices.
Excess sugar in your diet can turn into triglycerides, which can lead to an increase in blood triglyceride levels, along with other heart disease risk factors.
One study found that people who consumed at least 25% of calories from sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who consumed less than 10% of calories from sugar.
Another study found that consuming large amounts of added sugar was also associated with higher blood triglyceride levels in children.
Fortunately, several studies have shown that a low-carb diet can lead to a decrease in blood triglyceride levels.
Even a simple change, such as replacing drinks sweetened with sugar with water, could reduce triglycerides in some people.
3. Follow a diet with a lower carbohydrate content
Much like added sugar, the extra calories from carbohydrates in your diet are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
Not surprisingly, low-carb diets are associated with lower levels of triglycerides in the blood.
One study looked at how different carbohydrate intakes affect triglycerides.
Respondents who ate a low-carb diet and consumed about 26% of calories from carbohydrates had a greater reduction in triglyceride levels than those who received a high-carb diet and provided up to 54% of calories from carbohydrates.
Another review reported that carbohydrate-free diets were more effective at reducing triglyceride levels than low-fat diets with the same amount of calories.
4. Eat more fiber
Fiber is naturally found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They are also found in many other plant sources, including walnuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
Including fiber-rich foods in your diet can slow the absorption of fat and sugar in your small intestine, helping to reduce the amount of triglycerides in your blood.
According to one study of overweight or obese people, consuming more dietary fiber was associated with lower triglyceride levels.
Another small study in adolescents found that eating fiber-rich cereals with a high-fat breakfast reduced the increase in triglyceride levels after eating by 50%.
5. Exercise regularly
Aerobic exercise can increase the amount of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood, which can reduce triglyceride levels.
Combined with weight loss, studies show that aerobic exercise is particularly effective in reducing triglycerides.
At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is recommended 5 days a week, which may include activities like walking, running, cycling and swimming.
The benefits of exercise on triglycerides are most evident in long-term exercise regimens. One study in people with heart disease found that exercising for 45 minutes 5 times a week led to a significant drop in blood triglycerides.
Other studies have found that exercising with a higher intensity for a shorter period of time is more effective than moderate-intensity exercise for longer.
6. Avoid trans fats
Artificial trans fats are a type of fat that is added to processed foods to extend their shelf life.
Trans fats are commonly found in commercially fried foods and pastries made with partially hydrogenated oils. They can also be found naturally in small quantities in some animal products.
Due to their inflammatory properties, trans fats have been attributed to many health problems, including increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease.
One study reported that replacing trans fats with polyunsaturated fats in the diet could be effective for reducing triglyceride levels.
7. Eat fatty fish twice a week
Oily fish is known for its heart health benefits and its ability to lower blood triglycerides.
This is mainly due to the content of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that is considered essential, which means that you have to ingest it through your diet.
It is recommended to eat two servings of fatty fish per week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Moreover, one study found that eating salmon twice a week significantly reduced the concentration of triglycerides in the blood.
Salmon, herring, sardines, tuna and mackerel are some of the species of fish that have a particularly high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Increase your intake of unsaturated fats
Studies show that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, especially when replacing carbohydrates in your diet.
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as olive oil, nuts and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils and fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds such as nuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
The study found that saturated fat intake was associated with an increase in triglycerides in the blood, while the intake of polyunsaturated fats was associated with lower levels of triglycerides.
Another review of several studies reported that olive oil could significantly reduce levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol compared to other types of vegetable oil.
To maximize the benefits of unsaturated triglyceride-lowering fats, choose heart-healthy fats like olive oil and use them to replace other types of fats in your diet, such as trans fats or highly processed vegetable oils.
9. Establish a regular meal pattern
Insulin resistance is another factor that can contribute to high levels of triglycerides in the blood.
After you eat a meal, your pancreatic cells send a signal to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is then responsible for transporting sugar to your cells that will be used for energy.
If you have too much insulin in your blood, your body can become resistant to it, making it difficult to use insulin effectively. This can lead to the accumulation of sugar and triglycerides in the blood.
Fortunately, setting a regular diet can prevent insulin resistance and high triglycerides. For example, a growing body of research shows that skipping breakfast can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity.
Irregular eating patterns appear less likely to achieve healthy cardiometabolic levels. Intentional feeding at regular times is recommended.
However, the evidence is different as far as the frequency of meals is concerned. Studies show that eating three meals a day significantly reduced triglycerides compared to six meals a day.
No matter how many meals you eat per day, regular meals can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood triglyceride levels.
10. Limit alcohol intake
Alcoholic beverages often contain a lot of sugar, carbohydrates and calories. If these calories remain unused, they can be converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
In addition, alcohol can increase the synthesis of large lipoproteins of very low density in the liver, which transmit triglycerides to your system.
Although various factors come into account, some research shows that moderate alcohol consumption can increase triglycerides in the blood up to 53%, even if your triglyceride levels are initially normal.
However, other studies linked light and moderate alcohol consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease, while overeating was associated with an increased risk.
11. Add soy protein to your diet
Soybeans are rich in isoflavones, which are a type of plant compounds with numerous health benefits.
Although widely known for its role in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, soy protein has been shown to reduce blood triglyceride levels.
One review of studies showed that regular consumption of soy protein was associated with significantly lower levels of triglycerides in postmenopausal women. Similarly, an analysis from one study showed that soy protein was associated with a 7.3% reduction in triglycerides.
Soy protein can be found in foods such as soy beans (edamame), tofu, tempeh and soy milk.
12. Eat more nuts
Nuts provide a concentrated dose of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats, all of which together work to lower triglycerides in the blood.
One study found that each daily serving of walnuts reduced triglycerides by an average of 2.2 mg/dL (0.02 mmol/L).
Another review had similar findings, which showed that eating nuts was associated with a decrease in triglycerides in the blood.
- Pecan nuts
- indian nuts
- Brazil nuts
- macadamia nuts
But keep in mind that nuts are high-calorie. One serving of almonds, or about 23 almonds, contains 164 calories, so moderation is key.
Most studies found the greatest health benefit in individuals who consumed between 3 and 7 servings of walnuts per week.
13. Ask your doctor about natural supplements
Several natural dietary supplements could have the potential to lower triglycerides in the blood. Always talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements as they may work with other medications.
Especially note that food and drug agencies do not regulate dietary supplements, and the quality of supplements can vary greatly.
Below are a few of the main supplements that have been studied:
- Fish oil. Known for its powerful effects on heart health, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to reduce triglycerides and several other risk factors for heart disease.
- Fenugreek. Although traditionally used to stimulate milk production, fenugreek seeds have also been shown to be effective in reducing blood triglycerides.
- Garlic Extract. Several studies have shown that garlic extract can reduce triglyceride levels, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Indian bdellium. According to one study, this herbal supplement was as effective as prescription drugs to reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Curcumin. One review of seven studies found that curcumin supplementation could cause significant drops in triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
A healthy lifestyle reduces triglycerides and bad cholesterol
Diet and lifestyle factors can have a major impact on triglyceride levels.
Choosing healthy, unsaturated fats over trans fats, reducing carbohydrate and added sugar intake, and exercising regularly are several strategies that can help you lower blood triglycerides.
With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce triglycerides and improve overall health at the same time.
There is no need to completely change your diet and lifestyle overnight.
Try experimenting with a few of the above tips and gradually incorporate other strategies into your routine over time to make longer-lasting, sustainable changes that are easier to adhere to.