Cholesterol may get the most attention, but a large body of evidence indicates that an unsafe triglycerides range is also an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In fact, recent studies show that high triglycerides are directly and significantly associated with cardiovascular death, cardiovascular “events” (any incidents that may cause damage to the heart muscle), and heart attacks.
Furthermore, a massive DNA study recently showed for the first time that triglycerides are not just associated with cardiovascular disease, they actually cause it. For these reasons, both patients and doctors are paying more attention to these fats and identifying the triglycerides range most likely to cause cardiovascular disease. Pro-active, health-conscious individuals are also searching for information about what is likely to be the ideal triglycerides range for health and longevity.
Triglycerides are fats that are either made by the liver or ingested by the liver from the diet. From the liver, they are then transported throughout the circulation and used by tissues as fuel or deposited for storage. High triglyceride levels are often caused or exacerbated by uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, obesity, and sedentary habits. Too much alcohol and/or simple carbohydrates, like sugar, are notorious for raising triglyceride levels. Elevated triglycerides increase your risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in men and women.
What Is a Good Triglyceride Level?
Triglycerides are typically measured as part of a standard lipid panel which measures blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol along with triglycerides. Your triglycerides level range is usually analyzed after 10 to 12 hours of fasting. In the fasting state, triglyceride range is classified as follows:
- Normal triglyceride range: less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline-high triglyceride range: 150-199 mg/dL
- High triglyceride range: 200-499mg/dL
- Very high triglyceride range: greater than 500 mg/dL
Unsafe Triglycerides Range? It Affects One-Third of Americans
Many doctors and researchers consider fasting triglyceride levels over 150 to be abnormally high, despite the official classification system listed above in which triglyceride levels within the range of 150-199 are considered “borderline-high.” This is because even “borderline-high” triglyceride levels are associated with higher amounts of atherosclerosis, causing particles in the bloodstream, belly fat, insulin resistance, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The optimal fasting triglycerides range may be less than 100 mg/dL, according to a consensus scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Indeed, most integrative doctors and naturopathic physicians who are working to help patients optimize their health and longevity aim for a fasting triglyceride level below 100.
Unfortunately, far too many Americans fall into the “borderline-high” to “high” triglycerides range. Studies show that 33 percent of adults in the United States have triglyceride levels over 150 mg/dl, and more than 50 percent of those have levels exceeding 200 mg/dl.
Getting on Track: Striving for a Better Triglycerides Range
For many, increasing physical activity can go a long way in getting to an ideal trigylceride level. If you’ve been sedentary, start with a walking routine (see our post “The Benefits of Walking”). Cutting back on sugars, refined grains, and alcohol also can help get you to an improved triglyceride level.
For others, a more comprehensive and strategic treatment plan is necessary to bring stubborn triglycerides into the optimal range. This can be done using natural medicines combined with specific lifestyle changes.
Originally published in 2014, this post is regularly updated.