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Triglycerides are stored in fat cells when the body has absorbed all the nutrients it needs from food and released for energy between meals, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Excess triglycerides have been linked to the development of coronary artery disease.
The AHA recommends the intake of healthy fats — like mono- and polyunsaturated varieties — in lieu of saturated fats to reduce triglyceride levels. Also, diets like Atkins that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat may cause triglyceride levels to fall.
For the study, researchers examined the health data of more than 13,900 people who were participating in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Scientists measured the individuals' triglyceride and cholesterol levels and followed them over a 33-year period.
They found that women with high triglyceride levels were nearly four times more likely to have an ischemic stroke than their counterparts with healthy levels of these compounds. Men with high non-fasting triglycerides had an even greater spike in risk, which was further exacerbated if the individual also had high cholesterol. In women, cholesterol levels appeared to have no effect on the risk.