:: Health Conditions - Cholesterol
- Cholesterol Diet Plans
Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC)
may help you lower LDL cholesterol.
They include diet, exercise, weight loss, and other changes.
Your doctor will want you to follow TLC even if you are taking
cholesterol-lowering medication; it will be more effective
if you maintain healthy eating and exercise habits.
Diets to lower cholesterol are low in fat-especially saturated
fat-and cholesterol. One of the best things you can do is
reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat.
You may need to change your exercise habits. Regular exercise,
or lack thereof, affects your cholesterol level and your overall
heart health. People who maintain an active lifestyle have
a 45% lower risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD)
than do people with a sedentary lifestyle.
Excess weight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol level.
Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can lower your cholesterol and
triglyceride levels. Eating
a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising
regularly, and cutting
calories will help you lose weight.
Other lifestyle changes to consider
There are a number of other lifestyle changes that improve
cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, and
improve your general health.
- Stop smoking cigarettes. Smoking decreases your HDL
("good") cholesterol. Smoking is believed to change
LDL cholesterol to a form that promotes the buildup of deposits
in the walls of your coronary arteries. Smoking increases
your overall chances of developing heart disease significantly,
because it damages your heart and blood vessels.
- Reduce stress. Although the connection is unclear, some
studies suggest that long-term stress can increase your
cholesterol levels. It may be that stress increases your
cholesterol levels indirectly. You should therefore try
to minimize stressful situations as much as possible at
work, home, and elsewhere. You may also ask your health
professional for advice on stress reduction techniques.
Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC)
diet for high cholesterol
People have varying degrees of success in lowering their cholesterol
by changing their diets. People who have high cholesterol
because they eat too many fatty foods may be able to lower
their cholesterol 10% to 20% with diet changes alone, while
others may only achieve a 5% to 8% reduction. 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 medications
The TLC diet is recommended by the National Cholesterol Education
Program of the National Institutes of Health. The diet's main
focus is to reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat because
they elevate your cholesterol. You can reduce the saturated
fats in your diet by limiting the amount of meat and milk
products you consume. Choose low-fat products from those food
groups instead. Replace most of the animal fats in your diet
with unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated oils, such
as olive, canola, or peanut. Monounsaturated fat lowers LDL
("bad") cholesterol if substituted for saturated
fat and keeps HDL ("good") cholesterol up.
The TLC diet calls for less than 7% of your daily calories
to come from saturated fat and that you eat no more than 200
mg of dietary cholesterol per day. However, the diet allows
25% to 35% of daily calories from fat, mainly from unsaturated
fats. 1 Most of the fats should be monounsaturated, and only
10% should be polyunsaturated fats. Your diet should include
only enough calories to maintain a desired weight and avoid
|Number of servings
|Lean meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and
||Limit to 5 ounces total per day
5 ounces maximum per day of lean meat, poultry or fish.
Substitute 1/2 cup dry beans or peas for one ounce of
||Limit to 2 yolks per week
||1 whole egg. Egg whites or substitutes are
|Low-fat milk and milk products
||2 to 3 per day
1 cup nonfat or 1% milk.
1 cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt.
1 ounce fat-free or low-fat cheese (3 grams of fat or
less per ounce).
||2 to 4 per day
||1 piece fruit, such as apple, orange or
1/2 cup canned fruit.
1 cup berries or melon.
3/4 cup fruit juice.
||3 to 5 per day
||1 cup raw leafy greens.
1/2 cup cooked or raw vegetables.
3/4 cup vegetable juice.
|Bread, cereals, pasta, rice and other grains
||6 to 11 per day
||1 slice of bread.
1/2 hot dog or hamburger bun, bagel or English muffin.
1 ounce cold cereal.
1/2 cup cooked pasta, rice, noodles or other grains.
|Fats and oils
||6 to 8 per day
||1 teaspoon monounsaturated oil, such as
canola, olive or peanut.
1 teaspoon polyunsaturated oil, such as corn or safflower.
1 teaspoon soft margarine (without hydrogenated oils).
1 tablespoon salad dressing.
1 teaspoon mayonnaise.
2 tablespoons nuts or seeds.
|Sweets and snacks
||Within calorie limit
||Choose snacks that are low in fat or are
made with unsaturated fats.
Adapted from the food guide pyramid to help you plan a
diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.