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Published on June 11, 2020

High Cholesterol Nutrition Therapy

hands holding a spoon dropping avocado on a tortilla

Why Was Nutrition Therapy Prescribed?

A plan called Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) can help people who have high amounts of cholesterol in their blood.

Following the TLC plan can help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) in your blood.

Too much LDL can form plaque in your arteries. This puts you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) helps rid your body of LDL cholesterol.

To keep your HDL at a good level, choose heart-healthy fats, such as vegetable fats (olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds). Exercise also helps keep you HDL at the best level.

Keys to TLC

The TLC plan suggests that you:

Limit saturated fats and trans fats

  • Foods high in saturated fats include marbled (fatty) meat, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, whole milk, cream, and butter.
  • Trans fats are found in stick margarine, shortening, some fried foods, and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils.
  • If you eat these foods, have them only once in awhile and in small amounts. Instead of butter or stick margarine, try reduced-fat, whipped, or liquid spreads.

Limit the amount of cholesterol that you eat to less than 200 milligrams (mg) daily. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks (one egg yolk has about 212 mg of cholesterol), fatty meat, whole milk, cheese, shrimp, lobster, and crab.

Eat more omega-3 fats (heart healthy fats):

  • Coldwater, oily fish are good sources of omega-3 fats. Choices include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Aim to eat fish twice a week.
  • Other foods with omega-3 fats include walnuts and canola and soybean oil.
  • Flaxseed is another source of omega-3 fats. Have it as flaxseed oil or ground flax seed. The whole seeds pass through your body without heart-healthy effects.

Keep the total amount of fat that you eat (including heart-healthy fats) to 25% to 35% of the calories that you eat. If you should eat 2,000 calories per day, your fat intake can be between 50 and 75 grams per day.

Get 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dried beans are good sources of fiber.

  • Aim for 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Have 3 ounces of whole grain foods every day.

Plan more plant-based meals, using beans and soy foods for protein. For example, eat a soy burger instead of a hamburger. Make chili or casseroles with beans instead of ground meat.

Talk with your healthcare provider about what a healthy weight is for you. Set goals to reach and maintain that weight.

Talk with your healthcare team to find out what types of physical activity are best for you. Set a plan to get about 30 minutes of exercise on most days.

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