The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute created the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet especially for people with high levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol).
Even though TLC was issued more than a decade ago, its recommendations still hold true today, says Libby Mills, a nutritionist in the Philadelphia area and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Elevated cholesterol raises your risk of cardiovascular disease. The higher your cholesterol is, the more likely you are to develop plaque inside your arteries,” she says. “Keeping cholesterol within the appropriate ranges is the best way to lower your risk. “
A great way to do that is with the TLC diet, she says.
The diet caps the percentage of calories you take in from fat, and also places limits on sodium, dietary cholesterol, and total calories. (A 5’5” woman who weighs 140 pounds and doesn't get much exercise should consume about 1,800 calories and no more than 60 and 12 grams of fat and saturated fat, respectively.)
Sound bland? It doesn’t have to be. In the following slideshow, we've put together a day's sample menu that sticks to the TLC guidelines yet gives plenty of love to your taste buds.
This square meal will keep you feeling full and alert until your lunch break, yet it barely puts a dent in your saturated fat quota and contains 0 grams of dietary cholesterol. As an added bonus, oatmeal, bananas, and OJ all contain soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower LDL.
For a tasty oatmeal recipe made with apple cider and cranberries, try our De-lish Oatmeal (left).
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1/2 tuna salad sandwich (with lettuce, tomato, and light mayo) Cup of low-sodium vegetable soup Apple Diet soda
This hearty brown-bag lunch will only set you back about 500 calories, and it contains just 7.5 grams of fat. (For an even healthier sandwich, skip the light mayo: It accounts for about two-thirds of the fat.)
Be careful when choosing a soup! Most are loaded with sodium, and before you know it, you’ll be way past your sodium limit for the day. Be sure to choose a low-sodium variety.
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Baby carrots or Low-fat microwave popcorn
Snacking between meals is a notorious diet-buster. When you’re on the TLC diet, that midafternoon energy dip that ordinarily sends you to the vending machine is when you’re likely to feel it the most.
No more potato chips and Snickers bars! Instead, bring a handful of baby carrots or a sandwich bag full of low-fat popcorn—but not both.
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Salmon with pineapple salsa Blue cheese and cherry salad Brown rice (about 1/2 cup) Glass of wine
As long as you don’t use too much butter or oil when you cook, the TLC diet affords lots of flexibility at dinnertime.
Fish is always a good choice, because it’s rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. (Try our Pan-Grilled Salmon With Pineapple Salsa recipe.) A leafy salad like our Pike Place Market Salad will give you another dose of soluble fiber. And having a glass of wine may actually be good for your heart; research suggests it may cause a slight increase in HDL, the good cholesterol.
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You’ve earned it! Celebrate the end of your first day on the TLC diet with this delicious and refreshing Homemade Peach Ice Cream.
Made with evaporated skim milk, calorie-free sweetener, and egg substitute, it contains only 58 calories and 0.1 grams of fat per serving.