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General Medical Questions
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Question : What is the relationship between carbohydrates and triglycerides?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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April 29, 2013
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Triglycerides are a type of fat that is carried in the blood stream and stored in the body. When you have a complete cholesterol profile done, the lab report contains your blood level of triglycerides. The report also contains your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.Triglyceride blood levels tend to go up and down during the day. In general, the level is highest within an hour or two after eating. It is lowest first thing in the morning before you have anything to eat or drink.This is why doctors usually recommend a fasting triglyceride blood test. This means not eating or drinking for about 10 hours before the test. Plain water is okay.The relationship between carbohydrate intake and fasting triglyceride levels is not straightforward. In general, most people who are overweight can lower their triglyceride levels by taking in fewer calories. That’s regardless of the type of foods they eat. Losing weight and exercising more are the primary lifestyle changes to lower triglycerides.On the other hand, some people have fasting blood triglyceride levels that are quite sensitive to the amount of carbohydrates they eat. That is, even when they restrict their total calories. These people need to take in a higher percentage of their daily non-protein calories as monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (canola, safflower and sunflower seed oils).Alcohol use also can raise triglyceride blood levels. Some people need to stop drinking completely as part of the treatment for high triglycerides.

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