It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
My wife has high triglycerides - 857 at present - and we are thinking about trying for our first child. Do you have recommendations?
Folks with very high triglycerides often (but not always) have a genetic condition that affects the metabolism of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream. It is very important that people with very high triglycerides are followed closely by their doctor.
The good news is that there are a lot of diet changes that can help lower triglycerides.
Reducing intake of sweet foods made with high levels of sugars, and especially fructose and high fructose corn syrup, is very important. This means not drinking any soft drinks, sugar sweetened beverages, energy drinks, etc.. Reducing or eliminating consumption of alcohol can have a positive effect, and given that your wife is considering becoming pregnant, it is a good idea to not drink at all prior to conceiving and certainly she should not drink during pregnancy.
Processed food should be avoided because of a number of ingredients that can have an effect on triglycerides. For example, white flour is very similar to sugar in how it spikes blood sugar, and consuming whole grain baked goods instead of white flours is important. Likewise, many highly processed foods - especially candies and snack foods - are made with hydrogenated oils and fats that are higher in Omega-6 fats, which can also be a problem. Because of the amount of fat in fried foods, it is best to avoid them.
A Mediterranean diet is a great way to lower triglycerides. You can find more information in our Mediterranean Diet section here at DrGourmet.com.
This means eating more whole grains, lots of vegetables, snacking on fruit and nuts, lots and lots of legumes, consuming less meat and leaner meat, more seafood, quality oils, and less dairy, and it's a great foundation for both pregnancy and lowering triglycerides.
In short, making fresh food from real ingredients, not eating at fast food places, avoiding processed foods, and not drinking soda or alcohol.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS