What Sugar and Fat Have in Common – and why you should care

cheesecakeHoliday indulgences can result in more than gaining a few extra pounds. Fatty sweet cookies, pies, and candy as well as excess calories and alcohol can lead to a spike in your triglycerides. Why should this concern you? It may be putting you at risk for heart disease. Read on and learn how to avoid it.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat that come from food, and your body also makes them. They are the most common type of fat found in the body. Triglycerides are continually circulating in the blood ready to be metabolized to provide a source of energy when needed, but their main function is to store energy for later use. When you consume more calories than your body can use, it converts the excess into triglyceride and stores it in fat cells. Fat cells hold the triglyceride molecules until your body needs energy between meals. Hormones signal the fat cells to release the triglycerides for your body to use.

Why do triglycerides matter?

When present in excess, triglycerides can be stored as fat which may lead to obesity and related health conditions over time. Research suggests that high levels of triglycerides in the blood may increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. According to the American Heart Association, young people with high triglyceride levels have a four times greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke than young people with normal triglyceride levels.

How are triglycerides measured?

Triglyceride levels in the blood are measured by a simple blood test. Your doctor will usually check for high triglycerides as part of a routine cholesterol screening called a lipid panel or lipid profile. Fasting for nine to 12 hours is required before blood is drawn for an accurate triglyceride measurement.

What is considered a normal triglyceride level?

The American Heart Association guidelines for triglyceride levels are as follows:

  • healthy: below 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL)
  • borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL
  • high: 200 to 499 mg/dL
  • very high: 500 mg/dL and above.

What causes high triglycerides?

Some people have a genetic predisposition to manufacture excessive amounts of triglycerides. Triglycerides can become elevated as a result of having diabetes, hypothyroidism, or kidney disease. Being overweight and inactive can also contribute to abnormal triglycerides. Dietary factors play a role as well.

How does diet affect triglycerides?

Eating too much of the wrong kinds of fats – saturated and trans fats – can raise your blood triglycerides. Triglyceride levels can also rise after drinking alcohol or eating foods that are high in carbohydrates especially sugary and refined carbs. This includes sugar, honey, agave and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and anything made with white (refined) flour including white bread, cereals, pastries, white pasta, and white rice. Dried fruit and fruit juice contain high amounts of fructose which has a strong impact on raising triglyceride levels.

What is the recommended intake for sugar?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day (25 grams) of added sugar for adult women and 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) for men. While all individuals should limit sugar intake, it is especially important for those with increased triglyceride levels. Consumption of sugary low-quality refined carbs causes a sudden rise in insulin, which may lead to a spike in triglycerides.

Learn more about cutting sugar from your diet with this FREE guide.

Before you go, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

What strategies do you use to keep your weight and health in-check during the holiday season?

I’d love to hear from you and your ideas could be very helpful to other readers.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Responses to What Sugar and Fat Have in Common – and why you should care

  1. marie pavelchak says:

    Hi Lorraine…since I am in the middle of my first holiday season sugar free, I don’t really crave the sweets like I have in the past. I am the family baker. For both my son’s birthday near Halloween and Thanksgiving..I still baked all my goodies for everyone else. I had one cookie and a sliver of my favorite pie at Thanksgiving..I got on the scale a few days after Thanksgiving and I actually lost a pound. My stragegy is to make sure there are plenty of healthy options, fill up on the good stuff and then there is little room for junk! Plus, I feel so much better now that I don’t feel bloated all the time, I just don’t want to feel that way ever again!

  2. Marilyn Hansen Silver says:

    I’ve lost more than 50 pounds, but now I’m toning and still trying to lose weight. I first started yoga classes and changing my diet in order to kick start my weight loss. As I plateaued with my weight, I joined a gym. I needed more cardio and strength training exercises.
    It took me two full months to detox from my previous diet of too much salt, mainly. I don’t have those foods around so I’m not tempted. I participate in a variety of exercise classes to keep it fun and interesting. It took a while for my body to accept and enjoy exercise, I must admit. There is no secret diet plan. We know what we eat and put into our bodies.
    Basically, it really is a simple plan: diet and excerise

    • Lorraine says:

      Congratulations on your amazing weight loss, Marilyn. That’s not an easy feat. You deserve a lot of credit! I totally agree. Healthy food choices and exercise if the way to go. Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays.

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