Triglycerides are the end product of digesting and breaking down fats in meals. Some triglycerides are made in the body from other energy sources such as carbohydrates. Triglycerides are fat in the blood and are used to provide energy to the body. If you have extra triglycerides, they are stored in different places in case they are needed later. High triglyceride levels have been linked to a greater chance for heart disease.
Triglycerides are measured using a common test called a lipid profile. It’s the same blood test that checks “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels. Everyone over the age of 20 should get a lipid profile done to measure cholesterol and triglycerides at least every five years.
Triglyceride levels are checked after an overnight fast. Fat from a meal can artificially raise the triglyceride levels on the test.
What Are Normal and High Triglyceride Levels?
The National Cholesterol Education Program sets guidelines for triglyceride levels:
Normal triglycerides means there are less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
Borderline high triglycerides = 150 to 199 mg/dL.
High triglycerides = 200 to 499 mg/dL.
Very high triglycerides = 500 mg/dL or higher.
High triglyceride levels may lead to heart disease, especially in people with low levels of “good” cholesterol and high levels of “bad” cholesterol, and in people with type 2 diabetes.
Many experts believe that high triglycerides may be a sign of other heart disease risk factors. That is, high triglyceride levels could multiply the bad effects of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Some research also suggests that high triglycerides are a more important risk factor for women than for men, although this is also disputed.
A healthy diet and exercises can lower triglyceride levels, improve cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease.