WEDNESDAY, Oct. 25, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Cholesterol might get all the attention on test results, but triglycerides are also part of the picture of good health.
They're a type of fat that travels through your bloodstream. Your body gets triglycerides from fats in the foods you eat and also makes them from other types of foods, like carbohydrates.
As with cholesterol, triglyceride levels are measured in numbers. A reading below 150 is normal. Above 200 is considered high, and above 500 is very high -- you may need to take a drug to lower it.
It's important to know your triglyceride level; it's typically done as part of the same blood test that checks your cholesterol.
There's concern over high triglycerides because of the link to certain chronic conditions. Along with belly fat, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, and higher-than-normal levels of fasting blood sugar, triglyceride levels are one of the indicators of metabolic syndrome, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Metabolic syndrome, which occurs when you have three or more of these factors, raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Being overweight, not getting enough exercise, smoking and drinking too much alcohol can all increase your triglyceride level. So can eating too many refined grains and foods that contain a lot of sugar, especially fructose. There's evidence that your triglycerides can go up if you get more than 60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates.
Some diseases, medications and genetic disorders can also raise your level.
For most people, lifestyle changes are the main treatment for high triglycerides, according to the American Heart Association. These include losing weight, getting more exercise, and making changes in your diet. Cut back on sugar, saturated fats and refined grains, and eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The University of Michigan details everything you need to know about high triglycerides.