Most of us know how important it is to watch our weight, even if we sometimes let the belt buckle slip a notch too far.
We're also concerned about our cholesterol levels. In fact, if the sales of those unnecessary drugs so many people take to control their cholesterol are any indication, it's a national obsession.
But how about our triglyceride levels?
Those fatty particles found in our blood are every bit as important – but it seems we're paying them no attention. A new study shows that a third of all Americans have elevated levels of triglycerides.
The study, published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at 5,610 people over 20 years old. It found that 33.1 percent of them had triglyceride levels considered borderline high or worse. It also found 17.9 percent of them had levels that were just plain high.
It's important to keep an eye on these levels because along with cholesterol, triglycerides are a good indicator for heart disease and other problems.
And like those cholesterol levels, what you eat has a direct impact on the amount of triglycerides floating around in your blood. It happens while your body is converting carbs to fat. The more carbs you eat, the more your body has to work with. So you get fatter and, at the same time, you end up with more triglycerides in your bloodstream.
It's a result of what I call the Torture Chamber Diet that has us all loading up on low-fat, high-carb foods and, as our national health proves, is killing too many of us too early.
Now, let's say you show up for your physical, get your bloodwork done and your doc notices that your triglycerides are elevated. Chances are, the first thing he'll tell you to do is go on a low-fat diet, and offer you some eating tips.
That's your ticket into the Torture Chamber.
As we've just seen, the very diet he'll tell you is good for you is also the same lifestyle that will lead to more fat in your body and more triglycerides in your bloodstream, because the Torture Chamber Diet is based on carbs.
By the time your next physical rolls around, you'll be even worse off – even if you've done exactly what he told you to.
The secret to good dieting is understanding the very basic principle that eating fat doesn't make you fat any more than eating a banana will turn you into a banana. You need a certain amount of healthy fat in your meals, and any diet that tells you otherwise is just plain wrong.
The key to a good diet is balance. Ease off the carbs, enjoy good proteins and a small amount of healthy fat (especially those that provide omega-3 fatty acids) and you'll do more than get your triglycerides under control – you'll be on the road to overall good health.
The best part of all is you'll get to stay out of the torture chamber for good.