Expert Q&A

Triglycerides: How Can Diabetics Lower Them?

My triglycerides are really high. How can I change in my diet to lower them?

-Brooke from California

Triglyceride levels are directly influenced by what you eat. Anything that increases your blood glucose will potentially increase your triglycerides.

The first step towards lowering triglycerides is to switch to a low-fat diet with limited carbohydrates to control your blood sugars within suggested levels. Also, it's important to get regular aerobic exercise, lose 5 to 10 percent of your excess weight, reduce alcohol consumption (complete avoidance is best), and stop smoking.

When fasting, blood sugar levels should be maintained at around 80 to 120mg/dl. 2 hours after eating a meal, blood sugar levels should be less than or equal to 160mg/dl. If your blood sugars are outside of these limits, speak with a doctor or certified diabetes educator.

Here are some pointers:

  • Increase the vegetables in your diet.

  • Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates.
    • Use sugar substitutes to sweeten coffee, cereal, etc.
    • Eliminate soft drinks
    • Decrease intake of jelly, candies, baked goods and desserts
  • Be consistent in with how many carbohydrates you eat, as well as the timing of meals and snacks.
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake, as even small amounts can raise triglycerides. Alcohol intake should be no more than 2 drinks per day for men, 1 drink per day for women.
  • Reduce consumption of red meat by limiting intake to only 1-2 meals per week. Instead, eat more non-fried fish.
    • Fatty fish such as salmon and bluefish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help stabilize triglycerides.

  • When choosing breads, cereals, or other grain products, select whole grain products such as whole wheat bread and oatmeal.
  • Use nonfat dairy products and small servings of lean meats. Reduce saturated fat to less than 10% of calories, cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day, and aim for 0 trans fats.
  • Begin an exercise program that includes at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • If you smoke, identify resources that will help you quit.
Megan Porter, RD/LD
Contributing Expert

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