What are triglycerides?

Dr Louisa Draper

"If you have high triglyceride levels, they can multiply the effects of high cholesterol by preventing the hdl molecules from taking up and removing the excess fat. This leads to a further rise in cholesterol levels."

Dr Louisa Draper

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Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in your body. Most of the fats we eat are in triglyceride form. They come from foods such as meats, dairy products and oils. When we eat, these foods get broken down into triglycerides. 

The triglycerides are then released into our bloodstream and transported to cells and tissues, where they are used as a source of energy. We need triglycerides for healthy body functioning, but having an excess can be harmful and increase your risk of heart disease. 

When you eat more calories than you need, the amount of triglycerides in your blood goes up, and your body stores the excess in fat cells (adipose tissue). Your body can break this triglyceride down at a later time to use it for energy between meals. There are many different types of triglyceride, but they can be broadly divided into saturated and unsaturated fats. 

Saturated triglycerides (e.g. fats from meat) tend to be solids at room temperature, whereas unsaturated types tend to be liquid (e.g. natural oils). The liver can also make triglycerides in addition to the ones that we get from our diets. Having a high level of triglycerides in your body is called hypertriglyceridemia.