Made up of three fatty acid and a glycerol backbone. Floats in the blood stream, thus often linked with cholesterol levels. Calorically denser than all of the other energy producing nutrients, it has 9 Calories per gram. Compare this to CHO (Carbohydrates) 4 Calories per gram, PRO (Protein) 4 Calories per gram, and alcohol 7 Calories per gram. Its interesting to point out that ”all excess Calories consumed whether from CHO, PRO, or Fat are converted into body fat and stored in fat cells.”(RFN) Examples of sources high in dietary fat include: Oils, butter, cream, margarine, mayonnaise, lard, salad dressings, cream cheese, olives, and nuts. There is seemingly a direct correlation between triglyceride levels and insulin levels.
Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. I previously believed that anything with carbon in it is oragnic. It was pointed out to me otherwise. The Soil Association declared that anything with an organic label on it is in fact not Genetically modified. This means that the oragnic label declares how it was produced, and does not declare the quality of the product. “The type of fatty acid present in the triglyceride determines the characteristics of the fat.” (RFN)
Nodes that cover in depth information on classification: lipid, and clickable links as follows:
- (SFA) Saturated fats: No double bonds, Solid at room temperature
- (MUFA) Monounsaturated fats: One double bond, liquid at room temperature
- (PUFA) Polyunsaturated fats: Two or more double bonds, liquid at room temperature
- Trans fats: Created by Hydrogenation (highly suggest you read this node, I found some interesting facts and posted it) As of January 1, 2006 nutrition labels now require fat percentages on trans fat. Its man made when manufacturers hydrogenate food. They add hydrogen to vegetable oil, increasing shelf life and flavor stability.
“Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in dairy products, some meat, and other animal-based foods. Trans fat, like saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises the LDL cholesterol that increases your risk for CHD. Americans consume on average four to five times as much saturated fat as trans fat in their diets.” (http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2003/503_fats.html)
The only lipid that gives energy: Triglycerides. It is important to note that carbohydrates are the main source of energy, and that fats are a low level fuel. (Proteins are a backup source of energy - mainly used for repair) Fats are very slow to produce ATP, (Adenosine Triphosphate). The Adenosine Triphosphate nodes are really helpful in understanding ATP. For additional information not found there such as chemical reactions, go to http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/biobk/BioBookATP.html.
Two fatty acids are recognized as essential in human nutrition.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid)-Great node here
Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid)
- DRI (Daily Reference Intake) 17 grams per day for men, 12 for women
- AMDR (Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range) 5-10% of total Calories consumed
- DRI 1.1 grams per day for men, 1.1 for women
- AMDR .06-1.2% of total Calories consumed
AMDR for fat: 20-35% of total Calories
How is an excess of triglycerides harmful?
“Excess triglycerides in plasma is called hypertriglyceridemia. It's linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people. Elevated triglycerides may be a consequence of other disease, such as untreated diabetes mellitus. Like cholesterol, increases in triglyceride levels can be detected by plasma measurements. These measurements should be made after an overnight food and alcohol fast.” (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4778) Contrary to popular belief, a low fat diet is NOT the solution to lowering high triglycerides levels. According to Lichtenstein AH, Van Horn L, studies show that triglycerides actually go up with a low fat diet. Its attributed to insulin resistance. “Diets high in carbohydrates, especially sugar, lead to increases in triglycerides.” (http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/triglycerides/faq.html) Thus lowering CHO in the diet is the key to lowering triglyceride levels.
Guideline levels of triglycerides:
- Normal--------------------Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline-high----------50 to 199 mg/dL
- High-----------------------200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high-----------------500 mg/dL or higher
Based on National Cholesterol Education Program
”Often a very high triglyceride level like yours can be caused by undiagnosed diabetes.” (http://www.dietitian.com/triglyce.html) Other factors include amount of time before fast, the longer the fast (up to 24 hours) the more accurate it will be. There is a minimal difference between fasting 12 and 24 hours on triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides affect the risk of stroke. Studies have linked high levels of blood fats (triglycerides) to an increased risk of stroke. “When the researchers accounted for other risk factors for strokes, people with more than 200 mg of triglycerides per dl of blood were nearly 30% more likely to have an ischemic stroke or TIA than people with lower levels of triglycerides.” (http://www.healingdaily.com/conditions/triglycerides.htm) This site is very helpful in awareness of risks. It goes on to explain how to easily lower triglyceride levels. “Sugars and grains and require insulin secretion, which is a potent stimulus to the liver to produce triglycerides, and sugars and grains must be reduced if you are looking to lower your triglycerides.”
- To lower triglycerides, lower CHO intake levels (especially sugars), and have a steady amount of exercise.
- Disease/disorders that cause high levels of triglycerides: diabetes, obesity, renal failure, or alcoholism.
- Avoid Trans fat. I got caught up reading about trans fat as I wrote this node, it is likely I will write a trans fat node next... as a result
- Cooking with olive oil instead of saturated fats such as butter/margarine is healthier.
- Less than 30% of total Calories should come from Fat, and less than 10% of that total should be from saturated fat (DRV).
(RFN) - Resources for Foundations in Nutrition: Power Tools, fourth edition, by Jennifer Turley, Ph.D, Joan Thompson, Ph.D, M.S., R.D., C.D.
Links to sources throughout article based on personal preference. List of websites in order used: