Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Health: Understanding the TG/HDL Ratio
by Nils Osmar February 24, 2022
Cholesterol is essential to the human body. Among other things, we need it to make testosterone and other sex hormones.
It can, however, go out of balance (as can our other lipids). Most of us are aware that a combination of high LDL and low HDL can be a warning sign of possible health problems. But according to this recent study , the ratio of triglycerides to HDL may be a more important indicator of potential issues.
From the Study
An abnormal ratio of triglycerides to HDL-cholesterol (TG/HDL-c) indicates an atherogenic lipid profile and a risk for the development of coronary disease.
Although some lipid variables were associated with the extent of coronary disease, the ratio of triglycerides to HDL-cholesterol showed the strongest association with extent.
High TG:HDL, especially >3, indicates significant risk of heart attack and stroke….
I’ve had my total cholesterol go up a little, then down a little, as time moved along. I’m really not worried when that happens, as long as my HDL is high. But if my HDL starts dropping while my TG levels are rising, to me that’s a wake-up call and I get busy making changes.
The changes I implement when this happens are:
- I do more fasting.
- I do more exercising (in particular, HIIT and aerobics).
- I start taking immediate-release niacin. (I don’t take extended-release or time-release niacin because taking high levels of it is associated with possible liver damage). (The other forms of B3, niacinamide, NMN and NR, have no benefit in terms of cholesterol levels).
- I increase my intake of berberine (which I take with milk thistle to increase its absorption). Berberine has the twin benefits of lowering blood glucose and simultaneously lowering cholesterol.
From a University Health News article:
Taking berberine supplements to lower cholesterol leads to 12% reduction in cholesterol and 23% reduction in triglycerides
The treatment with berberine significantly reduced blood lipid levels. Cholesterol levels decreased by an average of 12% and triglycerides by 23%.
The researchers also replicated the lipid-lowering effect of berberine in rats (9% decrease of cholesterol and 34.7% decrease of triglycerides). The human subjects also lost an average of five pounds without changing their diets.
Markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, were not significantly affected by treatment with berberine.
“Collectively, this study demonstrates that berberine is a potent lipid-lowering compound with a moderate weight loss effect…,” the investigators concluded.
When I do these three things, my levels reset nicely. My triglycerides go down. My HDL goes up. I’m not really too concerned about LDL, but it tends to also drift downward when I employ this fix.
Recent Test Results
Does Resveratrol Raise (or Lower) Cholesterol?
Many people in the life extension community take resveratrol. Some take it because they believe it’s an effective sirtuin 1 gene activator. But even those who aren’t impressed by its sirtuin activation often take if for other reasons.
One study suggests that resveratrol could actually cause LDL levels to increase in people with metabolic syndrome. But this conclusion is contradicted by this recent meta analysis. According to it:
The findings of current systematic review and meta-analysis showed that resveratrol supplementation among patients with MetS and related disorders significantly reduced total cholesterol and increased GGT concentrations, but did not affect triglycerides, LDL-, HDL-cholesterol, ALT, and AST concentrations.
My Experiences with Resveratrol
I’m just one person, so I’m not saying my purely anecdotal report proves anything, But for whatever it might be worth, I started taking resveratrol in 2019.
My cholesterol levels were skewed before I started taking it, as seen in the screen save I posted higher on this page. My LDL was increasing; my HDL was very low; my triglycerides were high. The screen shot of my test results makes clear that my cholesterol went down, not up, during this period (when I was taking 1 gram of resveratrol every day).
Of course this could have been because of some of the other supplements I was (and still am) taking, or because of I do a lot of fasting and exercising. It could be that the resveratrol was nudging levels higher while the niacin and berberine were forcing them lower, with the net effect of a large increase in my LDL and drop in my total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.
- Study: The effects of resveratrol on lipid profiles and liver enzymes in patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders
- Article: Know Your TG:HDL Ratio – Triglyceride / HDL-cholesterol
- Original study: High Ratio of Triglycerides to HDL-Cholesterol Predicts Extensive Coronary Disease
- Impact of a 12-week high-intensity interval training without caloric restriction on body composition and lipid profile in sedentary healthy overweight/obese youth
- Mayo Clinic: Niacin
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay