The alcohol-triglyceride connection
After 3 months of lo-co lifestyle changes, my cholesterol test results were mixed. Total and LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped, but HDL (good) and Triglycerides went the wrong way. Triglycerides, in particular, went up A LOT.
As you may recall, my doctor advised 4 key things. The first in this list below was to ensure I stay on track with lower cholesterol results, and the other THREE were for triglycerides in particular:
- Keep up the low-fat, low-cholesterol, plant-sterol, high fiber dietary changes I’d made (I have been marginally successful with this in recent months)
- Exercise more (marginally successful here would be a HUGE overstatement)
- Add fish oil (not too difficult, have done OK with this)
- Cut out or reduce alcohol (this I pretended not to hear)
I would have kept ignoring the dreaded cut out reduce alcohol recommendation, except my friend Christine asked me yesterday WHY you should reduce alcohol when you have high cholesterol and/or triglycerides.
Normally, I don’t care why – the technical details just plain bore me. But if I’m (or she’s) supposed to do something as drastic as abandon that best-part-of-the-day-glass-of-red-wine, then knowing why I should ditch the wine is important – or it’ll never happen.
Oh, who am I kidding. I know it’s not going to happen. But hell, I might as well know why I should cut out reduce my alcohol intake!
So I did some research: here’s what the Cleveland Clinic has to say about triglycerides (you can see the full page and more useful links on my Resources/Info Links page):
“Excess calories are stored as triglycerides in the body. If you eat more calories than you need, it could elevate your triglyceride level.
You may be able to reduce high triglycerides without medication by following a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and reducing sugar, fat, and alcohol intake. If you currently smoke, stopping may decrease your triglyceride level and your risk for heart disease.”
Woot! Alcohol is just ONE factor! Not the be all and end all! I mean, really, from what I read, it looks like a key cause of high triglycerides is extra calories & sugar, not alcohol per se. (I’m inferring that alcohol = bad because it has empty calories & sugar: I could not find a lot more about specifically WHY one should cut out reduce alcohol. If anyone has any solid info, please comment!)
As my jeans are not fitting me well right now (oh, the muffin-top horror) and I’m still a sugar addict, I decided that WINE IS NOT MY PROBLEM. Well, it might be a problem, but it’s not what is causing my sky-high triglycerides. Probably that is due to too much fat and sugar (see muffin-top horror above). So it seems totally clear to me that best way for me to lower my triglycerides is to work on items #1 (low fat and low sugar diet) and #2 (exercise) above.
Yes, OK, as for #1 – Phish Food is still in the freezer. And it was on sale last week, so I bought 4 pints. So shoot me. And as for #2, exercise, well, that is not what this post is about. So I am not discussing it.
But I did discover something great just past that freezer case…and it is cutting fat in my daily diet: Silk Soy Milk Creamer. Instead of half-and-half in my coffee, this is not bad…in fact, it’s downright good if you add a splash of half-and-half as well. And soy is on the it-lowers-cholesterol list, so hey, double bonus. And triple bonus: I even managed to cut the sugar in my coffee in half last week.
These sound like small accomplishments, but in fact they are HUGE victories for me, as my feeling about coffee is that it exists solely as a vehicle for cream and sugar. My (former) order at Dunkin’ Donuts: a medium decaf, light and 2 sugars. Oh, I miss those days.
So take that, triglycerides. You can mess with my coffee. But you are NOT taking my wine!