What Kinds of Food Cause High Triglyceride Levels?


Triglycerides , the fat in the blood, can contribute to a number of health problems and problems. High triglyceride levels can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and complications of diabetes .

According to research, diet and exercise can help reduce high triglyceride levels. Limiting alcohol consumption, managing diabetes, reducing smoking, and avoiding foods that increase triglyceride levels may also be helpful.

This article provides an overview of triglycerides and their health effects. It also offers examples of foods that are good and bad for triglyceride levels.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are lipids , also known as fats. These fats travel through the bloodstream and are used for energy or stored. If stored, hormones can trigger their release if they are later needed for energy.

What Causes a Rapid Rise in Triglyceride Levels?

Triglyceride levels can rise rapidly:

  • When you eat too much food
  • When you eat fatty foods
  • When you eat foods high in simple carbohydrates

Triglyceride levels rise if additional energy appears that is not used right away. This extra energy is stored in the form of fat.

High triglyceride levels can run in your family, too. While dietary changes can help reduce them a bit, you can also talk to your doctor about whether you need to take medication as well.

What Foods and Drinks Cause High Triglycerides?

Sugary foods and beverages, saturated fats, refined grains, alcohol, and high-calorie foods can all cause high triglyceride levels.

Get Medication Information / Tim Liedtke


Simple sugars like fructose are a common source of high triglycerides. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance .

Insulin resistance occurs when your body cannot effectively use the hormone insulin to convert sugar into energy. This can cause blood sugar to rise and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes .

Sugary foods and drinks that can lead to high triglyceride levels include:

  • Fresh and canned fruits
  • Candies
  • Ice cream and sweet yogurt
  • Sweetened beverages such as juices.
  • Cereal
  • Jams and jellies
  • Shakes and shakes
  • Foods and beverages with corn syrup, honey, sucrose, glucose, fructose, and maltose listed as the first ingredient.

Fruit can be a healthy food as it contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. However, if you have high triglyceride levels, you can limit your daily fruit intake. Ask your health care professional or dietitian if you have questions about the best fruit to choose .

Saturated and trans fats

Saturated fats can raise triglyceride levels. They can be found in fried foods, red meat, chicken skins, egg yolks, fatty dairy products, butter, lard, shortening, margarine, and fast food. The alternatives include:

  • Lean proteins like chicken and white fish without skin.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
  • Egg whites
  • Vegetables
  • Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut butter

Trans fats are hydrogenated fats found in some packaged and fried foods. Trans fats are prohibited in US foods, unless otherwise noted.


Saturated and trans fats can raise triglyceride levels, so they should be limited or avoided if possible.

Refined grains and starchy foods

Refined or processed grains are generally made from white flour, which can increase triglyceride levels. Sugar was often added to them as well. If possible, try to limit:

  • Fortified or bleached white bread, wheat bread, or pasta
  • Sweet cereals
  • Instant rice
  • bagels
  • Pizza
  • Pastries, cakes, cookies and cakes.

Starchy foods can also raise triglyceride levels. Try to choose foods that are 100% whole grain and choose long grain rice over instant rice. When possible, eat non-starchy vegetables like spinach instead of starchy vegetables like potatoes.


Drinking alcohol can raise triglyceride levels . Cutting back on alcohol can help lower these levels. If you or a loved one needs more help cutting down on alcohol, see your doctor.

High-calorie foods

Remember to eat high calorie foods if you are trying to lower your triglyceride levels. Because some high-calorie foods, like nuts and avocados, are rich in nutrients, see your doctor for more advice.

Foods that can lower triglyceride levels

Some research suggests that essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglyceride levels.

This type of fat is found in:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Walnuts
  • Flax seed
  • Rapeseed oil

Fish oil or omega-3 supplements can be a beneficial addition to your diet. However, you should speak with your doctor before taking supplements.

Also be sure to eat plenty of vegetables that help lower triglyceride levels in part because they don't contain a lot of calories, sugar, or bad fats. Certain vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach, contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, which can lower triglyceride levels.

Also, choose foods made with soy, which is a healthy source of protein. Some research suggests that regular consumption of soy protein can lower triglyceride levels.

Adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can help lower triglyceride levels. Whenever possible, try to eat wild-caught oily fish at least twice a week. You should also try to consume three to five servings of vegetables a day, especially those that do not contain starch.


High triglyceride levels can cause health problems. Foods and beverages that are high in triglycerides include sugary foods and beverages, alcohol, starchy foods, foods with saturated fat, high-calorie foods, and refined grains.

Diet and exercise can help lower triglyceride levels. Foods that can help lower triglyceride levels include oily fish, green vegetables, flax seeds, canola oil, and soy-based foods.

Talk to your doctor if you need more help lowering triglyceride levels or if you are considering taking a fish oil or omega-3 supplement.

Frequently asked questions

  • Your healthcare professional may recommend that you take the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Another option could be a prescription form of niacin, a B vitamin that can help lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL levels. Be sure to check with your doctor before using a supplement.

  • It varies, but can take several months with changes in diet and exercise. Studies have shown that losing weight between 5% and 10% can reduce triglyceride levels by 20%.

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