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A physician stated that eating a couple apples every day could actually increase triglyceride levels.

Is this correct?

If so, how do you determine which fruits and vegetables will help lower triglycerides versus increase them?

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Answer to first question: There've been conducted medical studies concerning effects of apple eating on lipid profile of hyperlipidemic (having increased concentration of fats in blood) and overweight men. Authors claim that:

Consumption of Golden delicious apple may be increased serum TG and VLDL in hyperlipidemic and overweight men. here's link to the paper

Studies did not concern healthy people, though. But apple contains fructose so I searched for connections between fructose and triglycerides level and found studies conducted on rats:

Dietary fructose not only increased triglyceride production, but also impaired triglyceride removal. (...) Thus, in the presence of fructose, but not glucose, insulin stimulates triglyceride production. you can read research paper abstract here

Basing on those informations (assuming that metabolism mechanisms in rat are similar to human mechanisms), I would say that any fruits containing high level of fructose can increase triglycerides in plasma. So if you are fuit lover it will be the best for you to eat those with low level of fructose like kiwifruit, citrus fruits or berries. Also some fruits like plums, prunes, berries, ripe bananas, and the skin of apples (skins only!) are allowed because they contain dietary fiber (look below) so they can be helpful.

Answer to second question:

In order to determine whether some ingredients are helpful or not, you have to carry out studies. I found some research papers about ingedients that are helpful in lowering TG level in plasma.

Those ingredients are:

Firstly: Garlic. Author of study "Including garlic in the diet may help lower blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides."(link to the paper) claims that:

Raw garlic had a profound effect in reducing the glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, whereas boiled garlic had little effect in controlling these parameters.

Secondly: Resistant Starch - one of insoluble fiber's components. You can find insoluble fiber in lentils, avocado, green beans, peas, cauliflower, zucchini (courgette), celery, nopal, kiwifruit, tomatoes, potato skins. Generally, high-fiber diet seems to help (studies). Soluble fiber had been found in broccoli, carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes but also in fruits listed above.

Sorry if I forgot about something. Hope I helped you.

  • Thank you so much for your answer! I've up-voted your answer in hopes that you will have enough reputation to post more links. Perhaps it would be okay if you post those links as text within your answer, by omitting the "http" protocol from them. – RockPaperLizard Oct 27 '15 at 19:01
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In this era of 'Evidence based medicine', there is evidence that fruits and vegetables are good for health and longevity (e.g. the Interheart study). However, there is little evidence to choose between different types of food and vegetables. Hence, it is best to encourage different fruits and vegetables, especially those of the current season, rather than choosing or avoiding one or few based on limited data or evidence.

Moreover, triglycerides are less of a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease (heart attacks, stroke, peripheral gangrene) than many others, including total, LDL and low HDL blood cholesterol. Quoting point number 10 of this document from American Heart Association:

It has not been determined whether lowering triglyceride levels beyond LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease and more research is needed to validate triglycerides as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease

It is generally not recommended to start medication to reduce triglycerides unless they are very high (>450-500 mg/dl), though some differ on this. Asians may be more predisposed to ill-effects of triglycerides than others.

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