Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood, and if you’ve recently visited the doctor and had some bloodwork done, you might have been told that your levels are high.
There are a number of things you can do to lower them, but one of the most effective is taking on a vegan diet.
Can vegan diet help with triglycerides? Many of the changes that occur when someone switches to a plant-based diet like eating healthier fats, reducing refined sugar intake, and eating lots of fiber can help reduce triglyceride levels.
Going vegan can be an effective way to manage your levels and deliver a host of other health benefits.
As a predecessor to many cardiovascular issues, learning to manage your triglycerides is essential for your health. We’ll five into how to lower triglycerides vegan style, and see why a plant-based diet can be so beneficial.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat or lipid found in the body, and your body uses them as a way to store fat.
If you were to look at the fat in a human body, most of it would be made up of triglycerides, and there are certain levels that your doctor wants to see to indicate the condition of your health.
These triglycerides travel through our blood and are found inside particles called lipoproteins. As we eat foods that are high in fat, they become stored in the body as triglycerides.
Alternatively, our body might also convert other food types like carbohydrates into triglycerides when we eat more than we can burn off.
To test for triglycerides, your doctor can order a fasting blood test, and this is usually done in conjunction with cholesterol checks.
From there, they might give you some suggestions for things you can do to reduce levels if needed, with a plant-based diet being one of the most effective.
How Do They Impact the Body?
The presence of triglycerides in the body isn’t a bad thing, as we all have a certain number of them within our blood.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that a reading lower than 90 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) is recommended for adults, and if you have consistently higher levels around 150 mg/dl, you will be diagnosed with high triglycerides and need to make some changes.
When you have higher levels of triglycerides in the body, it can greatly increase your risk for a whole range of other issues.
Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and pancreatitis are just a few common conditions that can occur when you’re not able to manage these levels and get them back to a safer reading.
Does a Vegan Diet Manage Triglycerides?
A vegan or plant-based diet can help manage triglycerides, but that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.
There are still plenty of saturated fats and other foods that contain raise your levels, and merely consuming more energy than you need in a day can cause other foods to convert to triglycerides as well.
A recent review found that people who followed a plant-based diet had lower triglyceride levels over the long term, but more research is needed.
Interestingly, other reviews found that these levels should go up or down by about 25 mg/dl in either direction when someone starts eating a vegan diet, so it’s worth monitoring when you start a new way of eating.
What makes a vegan diet so effective at lowering triglyceride levels is that people are consuming more whole foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Rather than having saturated fats from dairy and meat, they’re eating more monounsaturated fats that come from nut oils, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Although there are a few ways we can lower our triglycerides, including eating a plant-based diet, it might not always be possible.
Some people are predisposed to higher levels purely through genetics, in a condition called familial hypertriglyceridemia. This can increase with age and men are more likely to be predisposed than women.
Foods That Can Raise and Lower Levels
The American Heart Association has listed some foods that can help lower your triglyceride levels, and most of them are part of a vegan diet. Here’s their advice for the best types of foods you can eat for better heart health:
There’s no such thing as a bad vegetable, but when you’re managing triglycerides, the green ones are best. This includes leafy greens and green beans, and don’t be afraid to add butternut squash to the mix as well.
Fruits are a great source of fiber which has been proven to help with this condition, so be sure to get a few servings a day for good health. If possible, increase your intake of berries and citrus fruits you should get even better results when it comes to managing triglycerides.
Anything with loads of fiber in it will help, and vegans are no stranger to eating these foods in all of their daily meals. Quinoa, brown rice, and barley are just a few examples of high fiber whole grains so the more you can eat, the better your body will be.
Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
A vegan diet is naturally full of beans, nuts, and seeds, all of which are powerful tools for reducing triglycerides in the body and keeping you satisfied throughout the day.
Having both unsaturated fats and fiber means they give you a double dose of what you need to manage your levels, so add them to your meals where possible.
Although not something a vegan would eat, the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like sardines and salmon can help. Taking a supplement that replicates these ingredients can be just as beneficial.
Low Fat and Fat-Free Dairy
These are recommended for dairy eaters who are trying to manage their triglycerides and reduce the amount of saturated fat they consume. If you’re still eating the occasional dairy product, switching to low and fat-free options is best.
Others Tips for Managing Triglycerides
Food is an important part of our lives and one of the most impactful things on our health, but it’s not the only factor.
When you’re dealing with triglycerides that are out of whack, these are a few other things that might be able to help manage them.
There are loads of benefits that come with regular exercise but they’ve been shown specifically to lower triglycerides.
According to Healthline, aerobic exercise is the most effective form, so something as simple as 30 minutes of walking, running, or riding your bike five times a week can bring them down.
Studies have found that a weight loss of just 5% to 10% of your body weight can reduce triglycerides, and a vegan diet can help you achieve this more easily.
As well as managing these levels, weight loss has other benefits for your joints, heart, and rest of your body.
Speak to your doctor about what supplements might be helpful for heart health, and in particular managing your triglyceride levels.
Some of the best supplements include fenugreek, vitamin D, garlic extract, and curcumin. If you’re taking any other medication, your doctor will be able to let you know what’s suitable.
Look at your medications
There are some medications known to increase triglyceride levels while you take them, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have an unhealthy lifestyle.
Some acne medications, oral contraceptives, androgens, and steroids can raise levels so it’s worth speaking to your doctor about if these could be the potential cause.
Try other diets
While the vegan diet is a great choice for many, there are other ways of eating that you can test out to see if they’re a better fit.
Vegetarian, low carb, oily fish, and high fiber diets are also proven to be effective at managing triglycerides, and some people might find better success following one of these.
Plan your daily diet
There are recommendations in place for lowering triglycerides with diet, so look at your daily meal plan to make sure it matches.
You should have no more than 10% of added sugars and no more than 50-60% of carbohydrates in your daily calorie intake. Your dietary fat intake should be only 25-35% of your daily calories and primarily come from unsaturated fats.
Limit alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol intake is one of the leading causes of high triglycerides and cutting out a little at a time can get results. If you’re finding it hard to cut back on alcohol, your doctor might be able to help.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re wondering how to lower your triglycerides levels, there’s a good chance it’s because a doctor has already informed you that they’re high.
Heart health and the other impacts that high levels can have is nothing to shun, so having a follow-up blood test for your cholesterol and triglycerides is essential, and should be done as frequently as recommended by your doctor.
For those planning on switching to a vegan diet to assist with health issues, it’s still a good idea to speak with a health professional or registered dietitian first.
They can point you towards resources and tools that will make the transition easy, and help you to track your progress so you can see how your new plant-based lifestyle is helping.
Any time you make a change with diet, new medications, or supplements, it can take time for it to start working and you might have to experiment with ways to make it work.
Be patient as you learn the ways of the plant-based diet and give your body a few months to start reaping the benefits of this lifestyle.
Plant-Based Power and a Healthier Heart
Our triglyceride levels can rise and fall at certain times, but having consistently high readings can be a harbinger of larger cardiovascular problems.
Something as simple as switching to a vegan diet can not only help with this health issue, but a host of others, so consider giving the plant-based lifestyle a try to see what it can do.
There have been numerous studies surrounding veganism and plant-based diets, with so many benefits worth tapping into.
If you still have queries about how a vegan way of living can help you with your health and some of the more common conditions, read on for some FAQs that can get you started.
Will Going Vegan Help Me Lose Weight?
People find that switching to a plant-based diet helped them to eat a wider range of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, which sometimes equated to weight loss.
However, to ensure weight loss on a vegan diet, you would still need to create a calorie deficit each day and keep up with regular exercise.
Can Diabetics Be Vegan?
There are lots of foods in the vegan diet that would be beneficial for someone with diabetes to enjoy, and no reason why they couldn’t follow this way of eating.
As long as they managed their condition and stuck to the necessary requirements to manage their blood sugar levels, it could be quite helpful.
Do Vegans Have High Cholesterol?
Numerous studies have reported that people following vegan diets are more likely to have lower cholesterol levels, including total and LDL levels than someone on an omnivorous diet.
However, simply going vegan isn’t enough to guarantee lower cholesterol as you still have to be mindful about how you eat and other lifestyle choices.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.