Type 2 Diabetes, Triglycerides, and the Good Kind of Fat

This article was submitted by GlaxoSmithKline, makers of LOVAZA, a medication to lower very high triglycerides, made from omega-3 fish oil.

For those with type 2 diabetes and very high triglycerides, getting fit could mean getting more fat – the good kind, that is.

As Dr. John La Puma, a board-certified physician specializing in internal medicine and a professionally trained chef, explains, a healthy regimen should include food and recipes with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, in which many people may be deficient. This is especially important for the millions of Americans with very high triglycerides. A healthy diet can include fish, a good source of omega-3s, but for individuals with very high triglycerides, La Puma cautions that eating more fish may be just a start.  

Omega-3 fatty acids are “good fats” that contain natural substances your body needs but can’t produce on its own. These “good fats” are found naturally in some plants and in the oil of certain fish, including salmon and sardines.  Eating a healthy, omega-3 rich diet, lower in sugar and starchy carbohydrates, can be helpful in reducing elevated triglyceride levels. But in addition to lifestyle changes, people with very high levels of triglycerides may need a medication to lower those levels, such as a prescription treatment made from omega-3 fish oil called LOVAZA.

What You Should Know About Triglycerides If You Have Diabetes

Problems with blood lipid levels-HDL (good cholesterol) levels that are too low and triglyceride levels that are too high-are common among those with type 2 diabetes.

Triglycerides are a type of blood fat.  When you eat, some of the calories you consume are used for energy, and others are converted to triglycerides and stored in your body.  As with cholesterol, triglyceride levels are important to track because if they get too high, they can cause health issues.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with diabetes should target a triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or less.  Triglyceride levels are considered very high when they are equal to or greater than 500 mg/dL.  

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Triglycerides

People with very high triglycerides alone do not usually have symptoms.  You can’t “feel” very high triglycerides.  Because you could have very high triglycerides and not even know it, it is important to be tested.  Triglyceride levels are measured with a blood test. It’s also important to know who is at risk for very high triglycerides. You may be at risk if you have other health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or type 2.   If you have these conditions, you should talk with your doctor about your triglyceride levels.

Getting More “Good Fat”

There are a number of excellent ways to add healthy omega-3 fatty acids to an everyday diet, many of which make delicious eating and are good for those with diabetes, says Dr. La Puma. Fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout are fine choices, especially when marinated and then baked or grilled. Adding ground flaxseed and walnuts to salads will give them an extra healthy crunch. “Food can be powerful in the fight against many medical problems, including diabetes,” says Dr. La Puma

Partner with Your Doctor  

If you think you may be at risk for very high triglycerides, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your health and your triglyceride levels. If they are very high, work with your doctor on a plan that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and, if needed, medication.  Only your own doctor can determine if a medication is right for you. The FDA-approved prescription medication made from omega-3 fish called LOVAZA is proven, along with a healthy diet, to reduce very high triglycerides.   

For Summer “Good Fat” Free Recipes and More Information

Dr. La Puma’s New York Times best-selling book, ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine (Crown/Three Rivers, April 2008) features many summer “good fat” recipes rich in omega-3s and flavor and a section about culinary medicine for people with type 2 diabetes. The best-selling hardcover is now available in paperback at bookstores everywhere, online and off.  

For free, healthy, easy all-season recipes, visit ChefMD.com and drjohnlapuma.com.  For more information about triglycerides, visit webmd.com/triglycerides.  Lovaza.com has patient information, prescribing information, and additional resources on very high triglycerides.        

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