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Healtheuniversity > English > Diabetes College > Eat Healthy > Cholesterol and Triglycerides > Triglycerides

Triglycerides

People living with pre-diabetes or diabetes often have a higher than normal triglyceride level. High levels of triglycerides increase your risk for heart disease and a heart attack.

You can lower your triglyceride level by following a Mediterranean diet pattern.

Triglycerides are a form of fat that is carried in your blood.

  • High levels of triglycerides increase your risk for heart disease and a heart attack.
  • High fat foods, sugar and alcohol can lead to high levels of triglycerides.
  • People living with pre-diabetes or diabetes often have a higher than normal triglyceride level.
  • A Mediterranean diet pattern can lower your triglyceride level. Find out more about the Mediterranean diet pattern »

What Is The Healthy Target for My Triglyceride Level?

A healthy target for triglycerides is less than 1.7 mmol/L for people living with pre-diabetes and diabetes. Ask your doctor about your triglyceride level the next time you get your blood work results from the lab.

Foods That Lower Your Triglyceride Level

Foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet pattern can lower your triglyceride level.

Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds

These foods are high in fibre and provide lots of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

  • Aim to include a vegetable and/or fruit every time you eat a main meal.
  • Eat a mix of different coloured vegetables. Eating vegetables of different colours will give you different nutrients.
  • Choose low glycemic index foods made from whole grains (such as barley, oatmeal, quinoa, brown or wild rice, kasha). Find out more about the glycemic index »
  • Add legumes (dried beans, chickpeas and lentils) to foods you already eat. Add a handful of legumes to a green salad or pasta dish.
  • Have nuts and seeds as a snack instead of granola bars.

Fish

Omega-3 fats are a type of healthy fat found in fish and some plant foods. Omega-3 fats can lower triglycerides and reduce inflammation (damage to the tissues of your body that can lead to disease such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer).

  • Aim to eat fatty fish 3 times each week (fresh or canned). Examples of fatty fish include sardines, trout, halibut, bass, salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
  • Eat plant sources of omega-3 fats such as walnuts, ground flaxseed & flaxseed oil, hemp seeds and hemp hearts, chia seed, and canola oil. Add hemp hearts, chia seed or ground flax seed to other foods.

Foods That Raise Your Triglyceride Level

Added or free sugars

Examples include:

  • all types of sugar (raw sugar, white or brown sugars)
  • honey
  • sweets, pastries, desserts, granola bars
  • juices
  • jams, jellies, syrup
  • chocolate
  • candy
  • regular pop
  • sugar sweetened drinks

High glycemic index foods

Read the chapter on 'Fibre & Glycemic Index' for more information

High glycemic index foods are often highly processed. Learn more about the glycemic index »

Examples of high glycemic index foods include:

  • sugar
  • crackers
  • white flour (such as white bread)
  • short grain sticky white rice or instant rice
  • instant mashed potatoes
  • instant noodles
  • rice cakes

Too much alcohol

Some of the medicines you take may react poorly with alcohol. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how your medicines react with alcohol before you drink alcohol.

If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink to avoid high triglyceride levels.

  • Men: limit alcohol to 2 drinks each day at most
  • Women: limit alcohol to 1 drink each day at most

Your triglyceride and blood sugar levels may increase if you mix alcohol with juice or regular pop since these drinks contain sugar.

Trans fats

Trans fats are commercially prepared (factory-made) fats. They are made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening. Foods made with trans fats are highly processed.

Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol in your body. They also increase inflammation (damage to the tissues of your body that can lead to disease such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer).

Trans fats are not healthy for you. They can increase your chances of having heart disease, a heart attack or stroke.

Examples of foods often made with partially hydrogenated oil or trans fats include:

  • crackers and cookies
  • cakes, pie crusts, pastries, donuts, croissants
  • vegetable shortening, hard margarine
  • french fries, potato chips, corn chips
  • deep-fried restaurant or fast foods
Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016