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5 Foods to Lower Triglycerides

Diet and Nutrition

February 29, 2024

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Design by Ryan Hamsher/Photography by Nadine Greef/Stocksy

Design by Ryan Hamsher/Photography by Nadine Greef/Stocksy

by April Benshosan

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Medically Reviewed by:

Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD

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by April Benshosan

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD

•••••

Some whole foods, like avocado and quinoa, may help lower triglyceride levels. Here’s how to get more of them in your diet.

If you’ve ever had your blood cholesterol levels tested, you’ve probably also had your triglyceride levels checked.

Healthcare pros measure the amount of triglycerides in your blood as another indicator of heart health.

Managing your triglyceride levels can be especially important if you live with a chronic inflammatory condition that’s linked with an increased risk of heart disease. This includes autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and many other conditions.

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Why are triglycerides, and why do they matter?

Simply put, triglycerides are a type of fat (or lipid) that stores unused calories. When you eat more food than you need, your body turns those extra calories into triglycerides, which can be used for energy at a later time.

Triglycerides and cholesterol are often lumped together because both circulate in your blood and, in excess, may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

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What’s the best way to lower your triglycerides?

Small changes to your daily habits can be a powerful tool for lowering your levels.

Eating more whole foods, exercising, losing weight if needed, and reducing your alcohol intake can all have a big impact.

To the opposite effect, eating foods high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugar, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough exercise can all raise triglyceride levels.

Sometimes, high triglycerides can have another cause, too — like low levels of thyroid hormone or taking certain medications (such as steroids or hormone therapy).

Here’s how certain foods can help lower (or raise) your triglyceride levels, along with tips for inspiration:

5 foods to help lower your triglycerides

1. Fatty fish

Oily fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel are high in omega-3s, which have been shown to help lower triglyceride levels.

For a quick lunch on the go, you can meal prep tuna salad using canned tuna. Serve on whole-grain toasted bread for an open-faced sandwich or as a dip with whole-grain crackers and celery.

Salmon bowls are another easy at-home meal that can help up your intake of omega-3s. You can choose different vegetables and seasonings to give your bowl an Asian, Greek, or Cajun flavor. Tip: Canned salmon is an affordable and convenient option — and almost always contains wild, not farmed, salmon.

2. Soy protein

Consuming a diet rich in soy may help lower your risk of heart disease. In 2020 research on postmenopausal women, researchers found a link between eating at least 25 grams of soy protein per day and lower triglyceride levels.

One cup of cooked edamame (160 grams) has nearly 19 grams of soy protein, and each 3.5-ounce (100 grams) serving of tofu contains 17 grams of soy protein.

Soybeans are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Minimally processed soy foods like tofu, edamame, tempeh, and natto are all healthy sources of soy to add to your diet.

You can simply swap out meat for tofu or tempeh when cooking from home or eating out. Many casual restaurants offer soy-based vegetarian protein options on the menu, too.

3. Avocado

Avocados are full of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, along with monounsaturated fats that help manage blood sugar.

Replacing some saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help reduce your triglyceride levels. Using avocado instead of saturated foods like butter now and then may help lower triglycerides.

You can add avocado to toast for breakfast, salad for lunch, and diced tomatoes for a guacamole snack. Thanks to its mild flavor, you can combine avocado with just about anything or use it instead of butter or mayo.

4. Quinoa

Along with fiber and protein, quinoa has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Some research found that eating quinoa lowered triglycerides in people who were overweight or living with obesity.

Mix quinoa with lettuce for a heartier salad base that you can top with veggies, nuts, and your favorite dressing. For an even heart healthier meal, you can toss in avocado and tofu, too.

5. Beans

Beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber. Research from 2018 found that eating dietary fiber can help lower triglyceride levels.

During your next taco night, you can substitute half a serving of fajita meat with beans, or replace meat with beans entirely. Tossing chickpeas into salads and roasting them with sheet-pan dinners are other quick ways to incorporate this fiber-rich food into your diet.

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Foods to limit to help lower your triglycerides

1. Added sugar

Consuming too much added sugar can raise triglyceride levels. Sugar is added to many common food products other than desserts.

Sugar-sweetened beverages, flavored yogurts, baked goods, candy, and cereals are often filled with added sugar — though it may not be apparent based on the packaging. Be sure to check nutrition labels for added sugar.

One way to cut back on sugar is to swap breakfast pastries and sugary cereal for plain yogurt or plain oatmeal topped with fruit and your favorite nuts.

2. Refined grains

Refined grains are stripped of valuable nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber.

Swapping refined grains (which often have added sugars, too) with whole grains can be an easy way to increase your fiber intake, along with the nutritional value of your meal.

For breakfast, you can toast multi-grain bread instead of white bread. Choosing whole-grain crackers and opting for brown rice over white can help boost your fiber intake, too.

3. Alcohol

Heavy drinking can increase your risk of heart disease. The effects of alcohol on your triglyceride levels may vary based on how much and how often you drink alcohol.

Some research finds that moderate alcohol consumption can increase blood triglycerides by up to 53%, although more research is needed.

Swapping out alcohol for a mug of tea in winter or a mocktail in summer can be a nice way to cut back on alcohol without missing out on the fun.

Takeaway

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your body that comes from the food you eat. Triglycerides store energy for your body, but having high triglyceride levels has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

To lower triglycerides, try these lifestyle changes first: maintain a healthy weight, eat a heart-healthy diet that’s rich in omega-3s and unsaturated fats, and do your best to limit starchy and refined carbs, added sugar, and alcohol. 

Medically reviewed on February 29, 2024

13 Sources

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About the author

April Benshosan

April Benshosan is a writer, editor, and content strategist covering health, fitness, beauty, and wellness. She holds a Master’s degree in Publishing, and her work has been published in both print and digital outlets, including Women’s Health, EatingWell, Shape, Well+Good, Livestrong, Paceline.fit, and more. Before freelancing full-time, she spearheaded the nutrition vertical at Livestrong. April’s dedication to responsible health journalism, as well as her personal passion for weightlifting, has led her to cover everything from the nuances of how diet affects skin health to the best mattress for workout recovery. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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