If you’re looking for a low-fat diet to help keep your cholesterol levels in check, the TLC diet plan may be a good choice for you.
Short for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, the TLC diet is sometimes compared to the Ornish diet or the DASH diet. The main focus of the TLC diet is to cut down significantly on fat, especially saturated fats, which can raise your levels of HDL or “bad” cholesterol. Examples of foods that are high in saturated fat include fatty meats, fried foods and whole-fat dairy.
The TLC diet is recognized by the American Heart Association as a way to attempt to control high cholesterol without medication. High cholesterol levels can put you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Medication is often the preferred treatment for dangerously high cholesterol, but attempting to help control it through your diet can be a more holistic and comprehensive approach to overall health.
To use the TLC diet, you would first decide upon how many calories you need to consume within a day, and then calculate calories from saturated fat to make up only 7 percent of your total caloric intake. You should also aim for consuming less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol in a day. This approach can take a bit of focus and calculation at first, but once you have a firm grasp on which foods are acceptable and which and are not, food choices become easier.
Foods to avoid or limit on the TLC diet include butter, salami, full-fat cheese, anything fried, heavy desserts and red meats with a lot of fat on them. It becomes obvious pretty quickly which foods are high in fat and which are not. Try incorporating lean meat like chicken without the skin, fish, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet instead.
Getting enough soluble fiber and plant sterols through your diet is also an important aspect of the TLC plan, because they help block the absorption of cholesterol into the body and instead sweep it out through the digestive system. Adults should aim for between 22 and 34 grams of fiber each day.
Following this plan should significantly drop the levels of cholesterol in the body quite quickly, which is why it is thought to be an alternative to taking medication. Although the TLC diet was not designed for weight loss, many people will find that reducing the amount of fatty foods they consume will drastically slim their waistline as well, which can further promote cardiovascular health.
In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, this diet can help you maintain healthy blood pressure and prevent the onset of heart disease.