Cholesterol Diet

Reducing Cholesterol with Diet and Exercise

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. However, low-carb diets have been clinically proven to be better for your overall health and for weight loss, compared to low-fat diets. So, a low-fat or a low-carb diet? Though these two diets do have their differences, what they have in common is that they are both low in carbs. Low-carb diets have been linked to lower blood triglyceride levels, as well. Here are some ideas for low-carb food for you (use the coupon code AFF10MN to get 10% Off!).


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.


Weight loss
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.



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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. 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 are added.


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 weight gain.


Food group
Number of servings
Lean meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and dry peas.
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 meat.
Limit to 2 yolks per week.
1 whole egg. Egg whites or substitutes are not limited.
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 banana.
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.



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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.




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