AHA: Exercise and Dietary Changes Reduce Trigylcerides

Combining dietary changes and physical activity may reduce triglycerides by 50 percent or greater

TUESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Dietary and lifestyle changes that include engaging in regular physical activity, losing excess weight, and replacing saturated dietary fats with healthy unsaturated fats can reduce elevated triglycerides, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online April 18 in Circulation.

Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues evaluated more than 500 international studies from the past 30 years to develop the statement. In terms of physical activity, all patients with triglyceride levels in the borderline to high range (150 to 199 mg/dL) or greater should incorporate physical activities of at least moderate intensity (such as brisk walking) for at least 150 minutes weekly, as these activities may provide triglyceride reductions of 20 to 30 percent, according to the statement.

In terms of dietary changes for individuals with elevated triglyceride levels, the committee recommends limiting added sugar to less than 5 to 10 percent of calories consumed, keeping fructose from both processed foods and naturally occurring foods to less than 50 to 100 g/d, maintaining saturated fat at less than 7 percent of total calories, reducing trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories, and limiting alcohol intake. They also recommend consuming more vegetables and fruits lower in fructose as well as high fiber whole-grains and omega-3 fatty acids. Combining dietary changes and physical activity as well as reducing excess weight may provide approximately a 50 percent or greater reduction in triglyceride levels, according to the statement.

"The good news is that high triglycerides can, in large part, be reduced through major lifestyle changes," Miller said in a statement. "In contrast to cholesterol, where lifestyle measures are important but may not be the solution, high triglycerides are often quite responsive to lifestyle measures that include weight loss if overweight, changes in diet, and regular physical activity."

Several researchers disclosed financial ties to various pharmaceutical companies and/or food industry organizations.

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