What Are Normal Triglyceride Levels?

Triglycerides are fats found in your blood. It is important to monitor these fats on a regular basis through blood tests. Triglyceride levels that are too high can lead to health problems, so you want to keep triglycerides in a normal range.

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What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are considered the most common type of fat in the body. Although they mostly come from food, your body can also make triglycerides. Your body needs some triglycerides to function normally, but high levels can cause problems.

When you eat too much food, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells. Your body does this if it does not need to use the calories right away.

The next time you need more energy, your body's hormones can release triglycerides into the blood. Calories that come from fats and carbohydrates are more likely to be converted into triglycerides.

Normal Triglyceride Levels

Normal levels of triglycerides can vary based on your age, sex, and other factors. Your healthcare provider can measure triglycerides during a blood test called a lipid panel. The test does not measure triglycerides on their own. Instead, the test is a complete cholesterol panel that includes:  

  • Triglycerides
  • Total cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol
  • Non-HDL cholesterol

It is important to get regular lipid panels. The blood test measures the levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). You will see this measurement in the report.

The guidelines for triglyceride levels for adults are: 

  • Normal level: less than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline high level: 150 mg/dL–199 mg/dL
  • High level: 200 mg/dL–499 mg/dL
  • Very high level: 500 mg/dL and above

How Do Triglyceride Levels Compare with Cholesterol Levels?

If you have high triglycerides, you are more likely to also have high total cholesterol and high bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Many people with high triglycerides also have low good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Both triglycerides and cholesterol are measured in mg/dL. However, the guidelines differ for what normal levels are for each of them.  

Risks of High Levels

When your triglyceride levels are too high, you have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides may lead to fatty deposits (plaques) forming in the arteries. Plaque buildup increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

High triglycerides are considered one of the signs of metabolic syndrome. The syndrome's other signs are:

Metabolic syndrome may cause diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  

Very high triglycerides may also affect your pancreas and cause acute inflammation (pancreatitis). It may lead to tissue damage in the pancreas. 

You have a higher risk of high triglycerides if you have:

What Do Low Triglyceride Levels Indicate, and Can They Be Too Low?

In general, having low triglyceride levels is not considered a problem. If your triglyceride levels are less than 150mg/dL, you have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke.

However, if your triglyceride levels are extremely low and less than 40mg/dL, then you may have a medical condition or disease, such as liver problems or inflammation. Your risk of dying from heart failure is also higher if triglycerides are too low.

Other causes of very low triglyceride levels include:

  • Very low-fat diets
  • Fasting for long periods of time 
  • Malnutrition, which means your body is not getting enough nutrients
  • Malabsorption, which means your body cannot absorb nutrients
  • Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) 
  • Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins 

Ways to Lower Triglyceride Levels

Your healthcare provider will make recommendations to lower triglyceride levels if they are too high. You may need to make lifestyle changes or take medications. The changes will depend on how high your triglycerides are and if you have other medical conditions. 

Lifestyle Changes 

You may need to make lifestyle changes so that your triglyceride levels decrease. Ask your healthcare provider about recommendations, and reach out to family and friends for support.

Lifestyle changes for borderline triglyceride levels may include:

  • Exercising more 
  • Losing weight
  • Eating a healthy diet 
  • Drinking less alcohol 
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Limiting sugar and processed foods 
  • Eating more healthy fats 

Lifestyle changes for high and very high triglyceride levels may include:

  • Eating a very low-fat diet
  • Losing more weight 
  • Taking medicines 

Medications 

There are medications that can cause high triglycerides, and others that can lower it. Your healthcare provider may recommend lifestyle changes before prescribing medications. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes or stopping a medicine.

Medications that may raise triglycerides include:

  • Blood pressure medications 
  • Steroids
  • Diuretics 
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) treatments
  • Estrogen 
  • Birth control pills 
  • Beta-blockers

Medications that lower triglycerides include:

  • Statins
  • Prescription niacin
  • Fibrates
  • Prescription fish oil

Many of the medications that lower triglycerides also lower bad cholesterol levels. Usually, your healthcare provider will recommend them if you also have high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What conditions are linked to high triglyceride levels?

High triglyceride levels can be linked to:

A Word From Verywell 

Checking your triglyceride levels is an important part of monitoring your overall health. Since triglycerides are part of a lipid test, you will also see other values recorded, such as total cholesterol. Talk to your healthcare provider about the lipid test and discuss ways to improve your numbers, if necessary. 

You do not want to panic if you see high triglyceride levels on the lipid test. Although you may have a higher risk of certain diseases, there are steps you can take to lower the risk. It may take time to see results and lower numbers, but do not get discouraged. Consider joining a support group or asking friends and family for help. 

Lifestyle changes are an important part of lowering triglycerides. Your diet has a big impact on these numbers. You may want to talk to a nutritionist if you are struggling to eat healthy or follow your healthcare provider's recommendations. They can make additional suggestions to help you. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Triglycerides. Updated February 12, 2021.

  2. American Heart Association. What your cholesterol levels mean. Updated November 6, 2020.

  3. MedlinePlus. Triglycerides test. Updated July 31, 2020.    

  4. Kozdag G, Ertas G, Emre E, et al. Low serum triglyceride levels as predictors of cardiac death in heart failure patients. Tex Heart Inst J. 2013;40(5):521-528.