Triglycerides and Thanksgiving: The Meaning?
Chances are, if you have gotten a physical in the last few years, you have gotten your blood work done. This includes the usual cholesterol, both the good and bad, glucose levels, kidney function levels, and other things like hemoglobin and hematocrit. Check, check, check, but wait...what about Triglycerides? What does it mean if this is elevated and how does it relate to heart disease and diabetes? How does it relate to lifestyle?
Triglycerides are the form in which fat is stored in the body’s fat cells. Normal levels are 149 mg/dL or under, 150-199 mg/dL is borderline high, 200-499 mg/dL is high and 500 mg/dL is very high. When you consume excess sugar, it is stored in the liver as glycogen, which is like a deposit that can be used for extra energy in times of need, like between meals and during exercise. If you overeat on sugars, simple carbs or alcohol, excess glucose gets converted into fatty acids, a.k.a. triglycerides. These enter the bloodstream and can get stored in the body tissues (picture the muffin top/beer belly). This abdominal fat is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes! Uh oh!
Lifestyle is a major factor is lowering your TG level.
Ways To Lower Triglycerides
Diet is extremely important! It is suggested to have a diet:
Food to include:
- low in refined carbohydrates (simple sugars), higher in complex carbohydrates
- low in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats
- including a moderate amount of vegetables, fruit, low-fat or non-fat dairy
- including lean protein (animal and/or vegetarian nuts, seeds, beans)
- limiting or eliminating alcohol (1 serving/day for women and 2 for men is the limit)
- good fats – olive oil, canola oil, oily fish, avocado, and nuts
- good carbs – found in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains (oatmeal, barley, brown rice, whole wheat pasta or bread)
- lean proteins – chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beans, soy products, egg whites (the occasional yolk is OK though)
- low-fat or non-fat dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt (contain some carbs)
- spices like turmeric, oregano, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, pepper, etc.
Other lifestyle changes you can make are to:
- added sugars, sweets, candy, ice cream, syrups, sauces, honey, jams/jelly, sugary drinks, and things containing corn syrup, fructose, or other things ending in “-ose”
- simple carbs like white rice, pasta, bread and baked goods
- starchy vegetables like corn, peas and potatoes
- butter, margarine, high-fat foods like whipped cream, sour cream, heavy cream and coconut
- red meat, poultry skin, fried foods, processed foods including bacon, sausage, and ham
- exercise often
- lose weight if you are overweight
- don’t smoke
- consume little or no alcohol
- practice meditation or mindfulness practices
- try not to overstress, overplan or overwork yourself
Who is more important than you?
Thankfulness, Self-compassion, Self-love and Self-care, Too
If you want to say someone other than yourself, it may be time to think again! Just like they say when you board a plane regarding the life jackets and masks – first you need to secure yours, then you can secure those around you. So it is in your health. Be a good example for those around you, live life to the fullest, prevent injuries, medications, hospitalizations, be the best version of yourself you can be, and then you will take care of those who are so important to you.
In this time of Thanksgiving, it’s important to take the time to reflect and be thankful for what you have. Many are far worse off, and it’s easy to get caught up in what others have or appear to have...the grass is not always greener on the other side.
It’s also important to practice self-compassion, self-love and self-care. How do you do this? One way is to not be so hard on yourself, to know and embrace that we are all humans, and we are not perfect. Accept that things won’t always go your way, and that you will mess up at times. Then move on. Love who you are for what you are. We are all unique and special beings. You don’t need to compare yourself to those around you; focus on being your best self. If you don’t like something about yourself, try to improve it. Embrace what makes you special, your strengths, and what others appreciate about you. And lastly take care of you, for if you don’t why would you expect others to.
Listen to your body, eat well, exercise, sleep, learn and explore, use your imagination, be creative, be curious, give back to others and the universe when you can, and take time to have fun.
Cilantro and Lime Salmon
Puree the oil, lime juice and zest, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Place salmon on foil on a baking sheet, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, spread the mixture on, and bake at 400 F until just cooked, about 10-15 minutes.
- 2 T oil
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- 2 T cilantro, coarsely chopped
- ½ jalapeno, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper
- 2 pound salmon fillet
Quinoa White Chicken Chili
Heat the oil on medium heat, and add the onion and peppers, cook until tender about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the broth, salsa verde, chicken, beans, quinoa and oregano, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked and quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the chicken, shred or dice it, return to the soup and add the lime juice and cilantro, season with salt and pepper. May serve with avocado slices.
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 T oil
- 1 onion
- 2 jalapeno peppers, diced (optional based on spice preference)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 t cumin
- 3 c chicken broth or stock
- 1 c salsa verde
- 1 (15 oz) can white beans
- ½ c quinoa rinsed
- ½ t oregano
- 1 T lime juice
- 2 T cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Quick Kale Salad
Place the following into a salad bowl:
- 4 c baby kale, chopped
- ½ c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ avocado, chopped
- 1 T fresh basil leaves
Pour the dressing over the kale, mix and enjoy.
- ½ c minced red onion
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- salt, pepper
- red pepper flakes
- 2 T EVOO
- 1 T honey
- 2 T lemon juice in a bowl
Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Pecan Parmesan
- 2- 2 ½ pound butternut squash
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 T finely chopped parsley
- ½ T EVOO
- ½ t sea salt
- 1 c de-stemmed and roughly cut chopped lacinato kale
Preheat oven to 400 F and lightly grease casserole dish with oil. Peel the squash, cut off the ends, then slice down the middle. Remove the seeds and stuff from the middle, then chop into 1 inch chunks and put into dish. Add garlic, parsley, oil and salt and stir. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes, until tender.
- ½ c almonds
- ¼ c pecans
- 1 T nutritional yeast (or Parmesan)
- 1/8 t sea salt
- 1 t EVOO
While cooking process the other ingredients until chunky, not pureed. When the squash is done, reduce heat to 350 F, stir in the kale and “cheese” mix, and bake another 5-8 minutes, until nuts are lightly toasted. Watch closely so they don’t burn! Remove and serve.
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Carena Lowenthal, MS, RD, CDN
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