A Little TLC For Your Diet

Everyone could use a little Tender Loving Care.   People with high cholesterol need some TLC, too.  In those situations, TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, and refers to an eating plan that claims to lower cholesterol by 10% to 20% without medication.  It turns out that the TLC diet can help you lose weight, too.

High levels of LDL cholesterol is a leading cause of coronary heart disease.  The cholesterol can build up in the arteries feeding the heart muscles, with profound results.   Part of the National Institutes of Health, called the National Cholesterol Education Program, created a diet that limits your intake of dietary cholesterol and boosts consumption of fiber.  Although not designed as a weight loss program, the low-fat focus of the TLC diet can help with weight loss.

The TLC diet restricts your consumption of diary (unless it is non-fat or low-fat), most meats, and pretty much anything that contains saturated fats.  By using liquid vegetable oils (think canola, olive, peanut, and safflower oils) instead of saturated fats (lard, Crisco, butter) can help keep you below the 200 milligram daily cholesterol target. 

With the TLC diet, your carbs should come from complex carbohydrates, like vegetables, pasta and whole-wheat bread. Simple carbs, like foods made with processed sugar, are to be minimized.  Protein, from very lean meat and low-fat dairy, should only be about 15% of your daily calorie budget.  That comes out to about five ounces of meat per day.  Consider substituting tofu or dry peas and beans for meat.  Egg yolks are on the restricted list, too, so EggBeaters or egg whites are a good way to make your breakfast omelet. 

To further reduce your cholesterol, soluble fiber is recommended.  Good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, pectin and bran.  Maybe have a muffin with that egg white omelet?   Be sure to use heart-healthy margarine to top off that muffin, though.

There is solid science that says that this diet will lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and hardening of the arteries.  Will it make you lose weight?  Probably not by itself.  The guidelines for the TLC diet are pretty sketchy about overall calorie intake.  Unless your calorie intake is less than your calorie consumption, don’t expect this to help your weight.  If you combine this diet with restricting your overall calories, though, you can look forward to a healthier heart and a trimmer silhouette!

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