What does a high triglyceride in your blood report mean?
There’s a reason why regular checkups are mandatory during pregnancy, no matter how tired, irritable or nauseous you feel. A doctor needs to monitor your health and conduct blood tests regularly, so that issues like high blood pressure or high blood glucose can be detected early on and treated. High cholesterol is another problem pregnant women face commonly, and in this regard, knowing about triglycerides is important too. Categorised under cholesterol, this is a bad fat that increases the risk of heart attack, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. Apart from triglycerides, other fats are also a part of cholesterol, such as HDL or high-density lipoprotein, which is known as “good” cholesterol, and LDL or low-density lipoprotein, which is known as “bad cholesterol”.
Now, cholesterol is an essential component in our body which is necessary for the production and function of steroid hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone. But a high triglyceride level is not desirable. During pregnancy, the cholesterol level can shoot up by as much as 25 to 50% during second and third trimesters. This is because these nutrients are required for a growing foetus (for brain, limb, and cellular development) and production of healthy breast milk. So, it is important to choose healthy fats and other nutrients to keep triglyceride levels low and ensure the wellbeing of the mother and the growing baby.
Triglyceride levels and symptoms
The normal value of triglyceride level in your blood is below 150mg/dl for both normal adults and pregnant women. A value between 150 and 200mg/dl is considered as high triglyceride level and is dangerous. It can lead to the development of plaques on the arterial walls of your heart and body, and pose the risk of chest pain, heart attack, and stroke.
Here are some more values that can pose an increased risk of heart diseases or other metabolic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
- LDL: Greater than 160 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL).
- HDL: Less than 40 mg/dL.
- Total cholesterol: Greater than 200 mg/dL.
- Triglycerides: Greater than 150 mg/dL.
Foods high in triglycerides
Food products that increase the triglyceride level in your body should be avoided as much as possible. They are:
- Foods high in saturated fats like mutton and pork
- Alcohol and alcoholic drinks
- High-starch foods
- Sugary drinks and added sugars
- Saturated fats like butter or cream
- Baked foods
- Canned foods and packaged products like chips, potato wedges etc.
How to manage high triglyceride level during pregnancy
- Focus on healthy fats- It is important to choose healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and go for foods like nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olive oil and seafood.
- Whole grains and legumes- Triglycerides are stored in your body if you have a high carbohydrate intake or consume foods rich in simple sugars and carbohydrates. Excess calories from sugars and alcohol are known to increase your triglycerides level too. So, while choosing carbohydrates, opt for whole grains and legumes like sprouts, pulses, millet, quinoa, oats, and broken wheat.
- Avoid fried foods- Always avoid fried and high-fat foods and go for steamed or boiled meals instead.
- Limit saturated fats - Limit your daily intake of foods containing saturated fats, like ghee, butter, margarine, baked food products and packed fried items like chips, cookies etc.
- Eat more fibre, fruits, and vegetables- Make fresh fruits and vegetables a part of your diet, as they provide you with lots of fibre and antioxidants to fight free radicals in your body. These remove toxins from your system as well.
- Exercise regularly- It is always recommended that you engage in light to moderate physical activity and aerobic exercises, to maintain a healthy weight and proper blood circulation.
- Limit sugar and alcohol intake- Sugary foods and alcohol are known to increase the triglycerides level in your body. So, it is important to keep a track of your sugar and alcohol intake or abstain completely.
- Talk to your doctor- If your blood report shows a high level of triglycerides, talk to your doctor about high triglycerides treatment options. These might include pharmacotherapy or changes in lifestyle.
Pregnancy and lactation are crucial stages when many physiological changes take place, to prepare your body for supporting the growth and development of your baby. Hence, choosing the right nutrients and food products is vital for achieving good health for both of you. Thus, inclusion of healthy fats in your diet is as important as any other nutrient. However, as triglycerides are bad fats that can lead to multiple metabolic diseases, you should avoid certain food items as mentioned above. Staying away from alcohol and exercising are also important.