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Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that circulate in the blood. After you eat, your body converts excess calories (whether from fat or carbohydrates) into triglycerides which are then transported to cells to be stored as fat. Your body then releases triglycerides when required for energy.

What might a low result mean?

Low levels of triglycerides generally correlate with a low risk of heart disease and stroke.

What might a high result mean?

A common reason for elevated triglycerides is that you have recently eaten and your body is simply dealing with the calories you have just consumed. If this is the case, our doctors will advise you to repeat the test after you have fasted overnight - which will give a more meaningful picture of your triglyceride levels. (We don't normally ask you to fast for your cholesterol test because we can generally build a better picture of your cholesterol status from a non-fasting sample.)

Elevated levels of triglycerides can indicate a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, especially if other risk factors are present too. High triglycerides are often (but not always) seen in people who are overweight or obese, who have raised LDL cholesterol, who lead sedentary lifestyles or who have type 2 diabetes.

How might I improve my result?

You can aim to reduce your triglycerides by reducing the amount of saturated and trans fats you eat (trans fats are commonly found in ready meals and processed foods), lowering your calorie intake and, if you need to, losing weight. Reducing the amount of refined grains and sugar in your diet and increasing whole grains and fibre has also been shown to help.

Exercise, limiting alcohol consumption and stopping smoking, if relevant for you, can also help to improve triglyceride levels while at the same time reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.