Reducing your triglycerides (TGs) — artery-clogging fats your body makes from excess sugars — can cut your stroke risk in half, New York University research reveals. And it’s easy to do!
Take vitamin E.
Because they are made in more than one part of the body (your liver, intestines, and fat cells), TG levels can be harder to control than, say, cholesterol. Fortunately, taking 120 milligrams daily of tocotrienols — nutrients in the vitamin E family — reduces TG production in all three sources, cutting your level 28 percent, says Daniel Yap, M.D., coauthor of a study in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis. Try these from Now Foods ($18.71, Amazon).
Reach for canned beans.
Study after study confirms that the biggest TG spikes occur right after eating refined carbs, such as white bread, crackers, and sweets. “To get blood sugar under control fast, your liver converts those excess carb calories into artery-clogging triglycerides,” explains Marianne Legato, M.D., director
of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine in New York. To the rescue:
canned beans. They’re packed with phytosterols, compounds that stall the
absorption of refined carbs and switch off enzymes that produce TGs, lowering them 27 percent if you eat 1/2 cup daily.
Bonus: That same 1/2 cup daily serving can trim 20 points off your cholesterol in eight weeks.
Pour some tea.
Whether you choose black, green, or white tea, sipping an unsweetened, six ounce with each meal can cut your TGs 36 percent in two weeks, a new study shows. Tea is packed with plant molecules called polyphenols that help your muscles quickly absorb and burn dietary sugars for energy before they can be converted into troublesome TGs.
Prefer herbal brews? Drinking eight ounces of naturally fruity hibiscus tea at every meal can also do the trick.
Go for the greens.
Adding a few ounces of spinach to your daily diet could lower your TGs 15 percent in one month, UCLA researchers say. Spinach is rich in alpha-lipoic acid, a nutrient that helps liver cells use TGs before they can clog your arteries.
Have a kiwi or avocado.
Eating a juicy kiwi or 1/2 an avocado every day can lower your TGs as much
as 15 percent in three weeks, Swedish research shows. Compounds in these fruits slow the absorption of their carbs, making them less likely than other fruits to cause the blood-sugar spikes that kick-start TG formation.
Bonus: Those same compounds block the absorption of sugars from other foods eaten with them, the study authors say.
Eat more broccoli.
Adding 1/2 cup of broccoli to your daily diet could reduce your triglyceride levels 17 percent in one month, UCLA researchers say. Broccoli is rich in alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), a nutrient that helps fine-tune your liver’s output of
TGs, so your blood levels never creep up too high. Other ALA-rich foods include flax and chia seeds, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, and organ meats.
The biggest TG spikes occur after eating refined carbs. “These carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream faster than they can be burned, so your body turns them into artery-clogging triglycerides to
get them out of the way,” says women’s heart expert Pamela Morris, M.D.
Not ready for a major diet overhaul? Including 1/2 cup of barley in your
daily diet can trim 12 points off your TGs. Thanks goes to barley’s rich stores of beta-glucans, tough-to-find nutrients that block carb absorption, preventing TG spikes.
Try low-impact exercise.
TGs are an essential source of fuel for hardworking muscles. So it’s no surprise that regular workouts help burn off these fats, lowering your levels 15 percent or more. What is surprising? Low-key — and low-sweat —
workouts (such as leisurely walks, tai chi, or yoga) can cut TGs almost twice as effectively as grueling exercise can, say Duke University researchers.
Strenuous activity makes you crave (and eat) comfort foods —
which your intestines convert right back into TGs.
Watch some TV.
We make more TGs when we’re under a lot of stress. Why is still a mystery, but experts do know how to fix the problem: Carve a half hour out of your hectic day to watch your favorite television show. A University of California study proves that when we know we’re going to watch an enjoyable television program, our stress levels plunge 50 percent — enough to lower
our TGs 13 percent or more. No TV? Get lost in a really good book.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.