If your triglycerides are high, there are many steps you can take to normalize your levels. Many people are on the wrong diet and experience good improvements once they make some basic changes. Read on to learn how you can change your diet, lifestyle, and supplements regime to lower your triglycerides naturally.

How to Lower Triglycerides with Diet

1) Eat More Protein & Unsaturated Fats

Compared to a high-carbohydrate diet, diets rich in protein and unsaturated fat diet reduced triglycerides by about 10 mg/dL in a study on 164 people with high blood pressure [1].

Diets high in monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and avocados, decreased triglyceride levels better than a high-carbohydrate diet over 7-weeks in 85 people with an increased risk of heart disease. An olive-oil-rich diet decreased the buildup of triglycerides in the liver [2, 3].

A diet high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3s decreased triglyceride levels in 17 men with moderately increased triglycerides [4].

Switch to a diet high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and olive oil to reduce triglycerides.

2) Increase Your Omega-3 Intake

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acid, PUFA diet) decreased triglycerides compared to a diet rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA) in a study on 67 obese people [5, 6].

In 12 healthy people, taking fish oil supplements lowered blood triglyceride levels by 48% [7].

Additionally, in a study of 300 adults, people who consumed krill oil for 12 weeks had reduced blood triglycerides compared to the placebo group [8].

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood triglyceride via 3 mechanisms:

  • Increasing the breakdown of fatty acids
  • Inhibiting enzymes that produce triglycerides in the liver
  • Triggering lipoprotein lipase activity, which burns fats [9, 10]

In 60 patients with metabolic syndrome, a 16-week omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreased blood triglycerides by 22% compared to the placebo group. Omega-3 fatty acids together with niacin were even more effective, reducing blood triglycerides by 42% compared to the placebo group [11].

Take supplements or up your omega-3s intake to reduce your triglycerides.

3) Add Fenugreek to Your Meals or Tea

Eating fenugreek seeds lowered blood triglyceride levels in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes [12, 13].

4) Don’t Avoid Foods with Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is often viewed as an “anti-nutrient” but it may have benefits for people with high triglycerides. Phytic acid reduced triglycerides in diabetic rats [14].

Fenugreek and phytic-acid-containing foods help lower triglycerides.

Supplements & Lifestyle to Lower Triglycerides

5) Vitamin C

A meta-analysis showed that 4-week vitamin C supplementation reduced blood triglycerides in 460 people [15].

6) Herbs

Guggul decreased blood triglycerides in rabbits with high lipids [16].

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) decreased blood triglycerides in rats with high cholesterol [17].

Vitamin C supplements lower triglycerides. Ashwagandha and guggul ay also help.

7) Niacin

Niacin reduces triglycerides and VLDL by blocking DGAT2, a key enzyme in triglyceride production in the liver. In a meta-analysis of nearly 5,000 people, niacin reduced blood triglycerides by 20% [18, 19].

In another meta-analysis of over 400 people with high fat levels, niacin decreased the blood levels of triglycerides; the effect was more pronounced in women. It offered similar benefits to 223 adults with high cholesterol [20, 21].

In a study of 942 patients with abnormal fat levels, adding niacin to standard treatment (ezetimibe/simvastatin) decreased blood triglycerides over one year. In combination with statins over 3 years, niacin decreased blood triglycerides in over 3,000 people with heart disease [22, 23]

In a 16-week study on 60 people with metabolic syndrome, niacin reduced blood triglycerides by 30% compared to the placebo group [11].

In a 24-week study on 191 HIV+ patients, the combination of niacin and fenofibrate reduced triglycerides by 52%, compared to the usual treatment [24].

Niacin, gemfibrozil, and insulin decreased the blood triglycerides of a 53-year old diabetic, obese, and hypertriglyceridemic man [25].

Many studies confirm that niacin lowers high triglycerides, both alone and as an add-on to standard treatments.

8) Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics

Galactooligosaccharides (a type of prebiotic) lowered triglycerides in 45 overweight adults in one study [26].

A 6-week course of a Lactobacillus Salivarius probiotic and a fructooligosaccharide (FOS) prebiotic significantly reduced blood triglycerides in 45 healthy young adults in a pilot study [27].

However, a Lactobacillus fermentum did not alter triglyceride levels in a study of 46 adults with high cholesterol. In another study of 32 adults with high cholesterol, a synbiotic product (a mixture of prebiotics and probiotics) containing L. gasseri and inulin decreased total blood triglyceride levels better than placebo [28, 29].

Interestingly, vanilla ice cream containing inulin lowered blood triglycerides levels by 40 mg/dL in a study of 12 men with high cholesterol [30].

The probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium longum decreased blood triglycerides in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. However, yogurt with Bifidobacterium didn’t have an effect on triglycerides in 32 adults with high cholesterol [31].

Dietary fructans (oligofructose) reduced blood triglycerides in healthy and obese rats [32, 33, 34].

A combination of prebiotics (such as inulin) and specific probiotics may lower triglyceride levels.

9) Get More Exercise

Cardio exercise before a high-fat meal reduced blood triglycerides in 38 overweight adolescents, 15 people with metabolic syndrome, and 9 obese men. Exercise lowered blood triglycerides in another study of 19 trained and untrained men [35, 36, 37, 38].

Plus, a single brisk walking session decreased blood triglycerides by 30% in 11 healthy women [39].

Animal studies voice the benefits of exercise. Blood triglycerides were lower in diabetic rats who exercised compared to healthy rats who did not. According to some studies, just thirty minutes of cardio can effectively lower triglyceride levels [40, 41].

Try to get regular, cardio exercise to lower your triglycerides. Even a daily short jog or fast walk can go a long way.

Foods to Avoid with High Cholesterol and Triglycerides

10) Avoid Carbs

A low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet increased blood triglycerides in healthy adults. Some high-carbohydrate foods you would be better off avoiding include [42, 43, 44, 45]:

  • Pastry, bread, white flour
  • White rice
  • Pasta
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn
  • Sweets and any sweetened food items, such as sauces and dressings
  • Fruits, in large amounts

Low-fat, high-carbohydrate, sugar-rich diets increase the production of triglycerides [46, 47, 48].

Not exercising and eating a lot of sugar, including fructose and glucose, can increase blood triglyceride levels [49, 50, 51].

11) Stay Away from Sugary Drinks

Reducing sugar-sweetened drinks can lower blood triglycerides. Substituting water for sugar-sweetened drinks reduced triglyceride levels in a study on 240 obese Mexican women [51].

Avoid carb-heavy meals and sugary drinks if you want to reduce your triglyceride levels.

Triglycerides Medication

If lifestyle and dietary changes don’t help, or if your triglyceride levels are very high, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your levels.

Fibrates

Fibrates trigger lipoprotein lipase activity and inhibit triglyceride production in the liver [52].

In a meta-analysis (16,802 subjects), fibrates lowered blood triglycerides by 36% [19].

Gemfibrozil decreased triglycerides by 31% compared to the placebo group, in 2,531 men with coronary heart disease [53].

In a study of 3,090 heart patients, bezafibrate was safe and effective in decreasing triglycerides by 21% compared to placebo [54].

A combination of niacin and fenofibrate effectively reduced triglycerides by 52% in 191 HIV+ patients, compared to the usual care [24].

Gemfibrozil was more effective than simvastatin in lowering triglycerides in a study of 96 type 2 diabetics [55].

In a case study of a 53-year old diabetic, obese man with abnormal fat levels, gemfibrozil together with niacin and insulin reduced his blood triglyceride levels [25].

Fibrates are prescription drugs used to lower high triglyceride levels.

Lipid-Modifying Therapies

In 82 patients with a fat disorder (lipodystrophy), metreleptin (a synthetic version of leptin) significantly reduced blood triglycerides [56].

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Statins, ezetimibe, PCSK9 inhibitors, lomitapide, and mipomersen are drugs used to lower cholesterol, but they also reduce blood triglyceride levels [18].

SR9009, a stenabolic, reduced blood levels of triglycerides in obese mice and mice on a high-cholesterol diet [57, 58].

Statins lower cholesterol, but they may be prescribed to people who also have high triglycerides.

Insulin

Insulin injections decreased blood triglycerides in case studies of pancreatitis caused by high triglyceride levels. Insulin infusion decreased blood triglycerides by 22% in 7 healthy men. However, many people with diabetes cannot use insulin properly [59, 60, 61].

In a 53-year old obese and diabetic man, injection of insulin (along with niacin and gemfibrozil) reduced his increased blood triglycerides [25].

In some people with diabetes, insulin added to other medications may lower triglycerides.

Learn More

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Takeaway

The first step you can take to lower your triglyceride levels is to switch carbohydrates in your diet for healthy sources of protein and fat. Increase your intake of olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids and avoid sugary drinks at all costs. Consider adding fenugreek to your meals or making tea with fenugreek seeds.

Supplements that may help include niacin, vitamin C, ashwagandha, and synbiotic mixtures (prebiotics with probiotics). You should also look to get regular exercise–even taking short walks can be beneficial.

If lifestyle and dietary changes didn’t have a large enough impact on your triglycerides, your doctor may prescribe medication to normalize your levels.

About the Author

Ana Aleksic - MS (PHARMACY) - Writer at Selfhacked

Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy)

MS (Pharmacy)

Ana received her MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade.

Ana has many years of experience in clinical research and health advising. She loves communicating science and empowering people to achieve their optimal health. Ana spent years working with patients who suffer from various mental health issues and chronic health problems. She is a strong advocate of integrating scientific knowledge and holistic medicine.

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