What are triglycerides?

December 02, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.  Our body uses them for energy.  A normal amount of triglycerides in the blood is good. However, higher levels of triglycerides are associated with a number of health problems. According to the American Heart Association, the triglyceride levels found in your blood are classified as follows:

150–199 mg/dL Borderline high
200–499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL and above Very high
mg means milligrams and dL means deci-Liters


Common causes for elevated triglycerides include:

  • Heredity
  • Aging
  • Eating too many Calories, especially from fats, sugar and alcohol
  • Weight gain
  • Illnesses like liver disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or kidney disease
  • Medications, like steroids, diuretics (water pills), birth control pills, tomoxifen, or beta-blockers

High triglycerides are associated with a number of very serious health conditions and diseases. These include:

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Sudden Cardiac Death
  • Angina
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity


Many times it is possible to lower your triglycerides if they are elevated. One way is to consume omega-3s from fish oil, not flaxseed oil. Click here to learn more about how to lower your triglycerides.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.