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Diet changes are usually the first step in lowering high cholesterol before medicines are added.
Many people whose cholesterol is high because they eat too many fatty foods are able to lower their cholesterol with diet changes alone.
The TLC diet may seem complicated at first, but it's really not. Follow the guidelines in the table below, but take one step at a time. For example, start with the meat and beans group. When you feel confident that you're eating the right amount and type of meat and beans every day, move on to the next category.
You can also get help from a dietitian.
Lean meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, and dry
No more than 5 ounces total a day
No more than 2 yolks a week
Low-fat milk and milk
2–3 a day
2–4 a day
3–5 a day
Bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other
At least 6 servings a day
Sweets and snacks
Within calorie limit (check labels for number of calories per portion)
Choose snacks that are low in fat or are made
with unsaturated fat.
For an example, see the topic TLC Diet Sample Menu.
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.
Check food labels for fat and cholesterol content. Try to:
For more suggestions on foods to eat and foods to avoid, see Healthy Food Choices to Lower Cholesterol.
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.
August 13, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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