What are triglycerides?

  • Triglycerides (try-GLIH-ser-ides) are a form of stored fat. This is the most common fat found in foods and the body.

  • Fats and oils in foods are mainly in the  form of triglycerides.

  • Triglycerides are carried in the blood. A high level of triglycerides in the blood may increase your risk of heart disease.

What can increase triglyceride levels?

  • Too much fat in your diet

  • Too much weight and body fat

  • Too much calorie intake, especially from sugar and carbohydrates

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Taking certain medicines

  • Family history of high triglyceride levels

  • Lack of exercise and a non-active lifestyle

What can help decrease triglyceride levels?

  • Weight loss, if you are overweight

  • Regular exercise (speak with your doctor before starting any exercise program)

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol

  • Eating less fat (especially less saturated and trans fat)

  • Eating less sugar

  • Controlling carbohydrate portions

  • Eating more fiber-rich foods

  • Eating fish 2 or more times a week (follow guidelines for safe fish consumption: call 1-888-SAFEFOOD).

Additional Tips to Help Decrease Triglycerides

  • Choose whole grain bread and cereal products and control portion sizes.

  • Limit portions of potatoes, pasta, rice, and noodles.

  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, and other high-sugar foods.

  • Limit juice portions. Choose fresh fruit in place of juice.

  • Check labels for fat and sugar content. For example, some products that are labeled “fat-free” contain high amounts of sugar.

  • Choose low-fat proteins such as lean meats, poultry without skin, and fish. Bake, broil, grill, or poach rather than fry.

  • Choose fat-free milk and fat-free or low-fat cheese.

  • Limit desserts.

Food Guidelines to Reduce Triglycerides

The following diet guidelines may not be appropriate for everyone. Check with your doctor or dietitian.

Food/Beverage Item Choose Avoid or Limit
  • Water
  • Sugar-free soda, tea, and coffee
  • No-calorie seltzer water
  • Regular soda
  • Lemonade
  • Sugar-sweetened iced tea or coffee beverages
  • Kool-Aid
  • Sweetened seltzer water
  • Fruit drinks (note 100 percent fruit juice is allowed but portions should be limited)
  • Skim, 1/2 percent, or fat-free or sugar-free yogurt, ice cream, and pudding (limit portions)
  • Fat-free or low-fat cheese (3 grams (g) of fat or less per ounce)
  • Fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese
  • Soy milk
  • Whole, 2 percent, and chocolate milk
  • Milkshakes
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Regular ice cream and pudding
  • Cheese made with 2 percent or whole milk
Desserts and Sweets
  • Low-fat cakes and cookies (limit to 2 to 3 servings per week)
  • Sugar-free Popsicles
  • Graham crackers, animal crackers, gingersnaps, and fig bars (limit portions)
  • Sugar-free gelatin or pudding
  • Pies
  • Cakes
  • Cookies and brownies
  • Doughnuts or Danishes
  • Chocolate and candy bars
  • Regular Popsicles
  • Sugar, honey, and syrup
  • Jelly and jam
Food/Beverage Item
  • Fat-free or reduced-fat
  • Mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing
  • Tub margarine (limit portions)
  • Liquid oil such as canola or olive
  • Butter
  • Shortening
  • Lard
  •  Fresh fruit
  • Unsweetened frozen fruit or canned fruit packed in water or fruit juice
  • Coconut
  • Canned fruit in syrup


Protein (limit to 6 ounces per day)
  • Lean cuts of beef and pork (tenderloin, sirloin, round steak, rump roast, boneless pork chops)
  • Canadian bacon
  • Turkey and chicken breast
  • Fish and chicken
  • Canned tuna or salmon in water
  • Venison
  • Egg whites or egg substitutes
  •  Fatty cuts of beef and pork
  • Fried fish and chicken
  • Hot dogs
  • High fat lunch meats
  • Kielbasa, bacon, or sausage
  • Dark meat poultry
  • Egg yolks (limit to 3 per week)
  • Whole grain breads
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain, unsweetened cereals
  • Air-popped popcorn or low-fat microwave popcorn
  • Soups made with water or allowed milk types
  • Homemade soup that has had the fat removed
  • Croissants, muffins, biscuits, and cornbread
  • Pancakes, French toast and waffles
  • Home fries, French fries, and fried potatoes
  • Pasta or rice mixes
  • Granola-type cereals
  • Sweetened cereals
  • Potato chips and corn chips
  • Regular microwave popcorn and sugar coated popcorn
  • Fresh, streamed, or stir-fry vegetables
  • Deep fried vegetables
  • Vegetables in butter, cream, and cheese sauce.


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