There are a few rules of thumb I’ve always followed as a physician…
#1: I’ve always worried more about carbs than fat.
#2: I’ve always worried more about sugar than salt.
#3: And I’ve always, always worried more about triglycerides than cholesterol levels.
If triglycerides sound scary, that’s because they are. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your bloodstream that, in excess, serve as a red flag for both stowaway sugar — and eventually, full-blown fatty liver disease. But they also make your blood thicker, and set your cardiovascular system up for disaster.
But triglycerides do have one major saving grace: They’re very easy to control.
In fact, you can easily drive down your triglyceride levels simply by eliminating sugar and simple carbs from your diet. (Something that you really should have done by now anyway.)
As you know, this has been my nutritional mantra for my entire medical career. And if you were to take the triglyceride levels of a random sampling of my patients, you’d find that they all hover around the 50 mg/dL mark because of it.
Which is good news, considering a new study showed that even triglycerides on the high end of what’s typically considered normal raise the risk of death in patients with coronary heart disease.
This was a really expansive study, to boot. Researchers looked at mortality data spread over 22 years from a group of over 15,000 heart disease patients. They divided subjects into five different groups, based on their triglyceride levels:
- Low-normal triglyceride levels were below 100 mg/dL
- High-normal triglyceride levels fell between 100 and 149 mg/dL
- Borderline high triglyceride levels fell between 150 and 199 mg/dL
- Moderate high triglyceride levels fell between 200-499 mg/dL
- Severe high triglyceride levels were above 500 mg/dL
More than 80 percent of this study’s patients were men. Nearly three-quarters had a history of heart attack. And as it turns out, even patients in the high-normal group were significantly more likely to die.
In fact, survival rates were as much as 15 percent higher among the low-normal triglyceride group. Of course, my patients are all well within range. I see the beneficial effects of low triglycerides every day. So this finding doesn’t surprise me at all.
What does surprise me is that triglycerides still don’t get the lip service that cholesterol does. Although there’s a simple, predictable explanation for that…
You want to know why high triglycerides aren’t more of a front-page issue? Because Big Pharma doesn’t have a “magic bullet” pill for it. (YET.) No, right now, the only cure for triglycerides is to eat smart and exercise. And while that strategy does save lives, no one really profits from it but you.
So, if your doctor doesn’t want to address your triglyceride levels — or worse, wants to put you on a statin medication to control them — run the other way. Statins will not address this problem effectively. (But they will make your life miserable — and possibly leave your liver in even worse condition than it was before.)
The best way to bring your triglycerides down to a safe level is to cut out all white foods (except cauliflower) and take a 15 minute walk every day. Do that, and I guarantee your triglycerides will start to go down in less than a week.
Cheating death really doesn’t get simpler than that.