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Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet for High Cholesterol
People have varying degrees of success in lowering their cholesterol by changing their diets. Those who are most successful using diet changes to lower their cholesterol are those who lose excess weight. Diet changes are usually the first step in lowering cholesterol before medicines are added.
The diet's main focus is to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat, because saturated fat elevates your cholesterol. You can reduce the saturated fat in your diet by limiting the amount of meat and whole milk products you eat. Choose low-fat products from those food groups instead. Replace most of the animal fat in your diet with unsaturated fat, especially monounsaturated oils, such as olive, canola, or peanut oil. If monounsaturated fat is substituted for saturated fat, it lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol and keeps HDL ("good") cholesterol up.
For more information, see:
What can you eat?
The TLC diet recommends that you eat specific amounts of different types of foods. These amounts are sometimes a percentage of your total calorie intake for each day.
- Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total calories
- Polyunsaturated fat: Up to 10% of total calories
- Monounsaturated fat: Up to 20% of total calories
- Carbohydrate: 50% to 60% of total calories
- Soluble fiber: At least 5 to 10 grams a day
- Protein: Approximately 15% of total calories
- Cholesterol: Less than 200 mg a day
- Total calories: Balance calories taken in and calories burned to reach and stay at a healthy weight.
Avoid trans fat. Foods with trans fats include some vegetable shortening, crackers, cookies, and packaged snack foods.
|Food group||Number of servings||Serving size|
Lean meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, and dry peas
No more than 5 ounces total a day
No more than 2 yolks a week
1 whole egg. Egg whites or substitutes are not limited.
Low-fat milk and milk products
2–3 a day
2–4 a day
3–5 a day
Bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other grains
At least 6 a day
Sweets and snacks
Within calorie limit
Choose snacks that are low in fat or are made with unsaturated fat.
Your doctor or dietitian might recommend that you add soluble fiber or a cholesterol-lowering margarine to your diet. These might help you lower LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats, beans, and fruit. Cholesterol-lowering margarines contain plant stanols and sterols.
For more information, see:
- Tips for Success With the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet
- High Cholesterol: How a Dietitian Can Help
- High Cholesterol: Healthy Food Choices
- TLC Diet Sample Menu
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
|Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.|
|High Cholesterol: Using the TLC Diet|
Grundy SM, et al. (2001). Executive summary of the third report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). JAMA, 285(19): 2486–2497.
Other Works Consulted
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2005). Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC (NIH Publication No. 06-5235). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf.
Raymond JL, Couch SC (2012). Medical nutrition and therapy for cardiovascular disease. In LK Mahan et al., eds., Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th ed., pp. 742–781. St Louis: Saunders.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator|
|Last Revised||June 18, 2012|
|By:||Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: June 18, 2012|
|Medical Review:||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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