Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Why is it unhealthy to have high triglycerides?

Q. I have healthy cholesterol levels, but a high triglyceride level. What are triglycerides, and how dangerous is it to have high levels?

A. Triglycerides are the chemical form taken by most of the fat in our bodies and our diet, and they're important because they provide energy the body needs. The fats, carbohydrates, and proteins we eat are converted in the body into simple triglyceride molecules and repackaged with special proteins called lipoproteins, which ferry the triglycerides to the cells. Blood triglyceride levels spike right after we eat, when these triglyceride/lipoprotein packages get dumped into the bloodstream. Levels drop over the next few hours as the triglycerides are taken up and used for energy. Those not needed immediately are transported to fat cells for storage.

Excessive triglycerides are not good for the arteries. Research has found links between high triglyceride levels and a high risk of stroke and heart disease, especially in postmenopausal women.

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