TLC Diet

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Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts

  • To lower your blood cholesterol level, choose only the leanest meats, poultry, fish and shellfish.

  • Choose chicken and turkey without skin or remove skin before eating.

  • Some fish, like cod, have less saturated fat than either chicken or meat.

  • Since even the leanest meat, chicken, fish, and shellfish have saturated fat and cholesterol, limit the total amount you eat to 5 ounces or less per day.


  • In general, chicken and turkey are low in saturated fat, especially when the skin is removed. When shopping for poultry remember:

    • You can buy chicken and turkey pieces with the skin already removed. Or buy pieces with the skin on and remove it yourself before eating . . . itís easy to do. Remember, the white meat itself always contains less saturated fat than the dark meat.

    • Limit goose and duck. They are high in saturated fat, even with the skin removed.

Try fresh ground turkey or chicken that is made from white meat like the breast.

Remember that some chicken and turkey hot dogs are lower in saturated fat and total fat than pork and beef hot dogs.

There are also "lean" beef hot dogs and vegetarian (made with tofu) franks that are low in fat and saturated fat.

Fish and Shellfish

When shopping for fish and shellfish remember that:

  • Most fish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat or poultry.

  • Shellfish varies in cholesterol content. Shellfish have little saturated fat and total fat.

  • Even shrimp can be enjoyed occasionally on the TLC Diet provided you eat less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day. For example, 3 ounces of steamed shrimp has 167 milligrams of cholesterol.

Meat Substitute

Dry peas and beans and tofu (bean curd) are great meat substitutes that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Dry peas and beans also have a lot of fiber, which can help to lower blood cholesterol. Try adding a Ĺ cup beans to pasta, soups, casseroles, and vegetable dishes. Tofu takes on the flavor of marinades well. Try marinating tofu in a nonfat dressing or a tangy sauce and grilling or baking for a heart healthy dish.


  • Egg yolks are high in dietary cholesterol - each contains about 213 milligrams.

    • Limit egg yolks to no more than 2 yolks per week. This includes the egg yolks in baked goods and processed foods.

    • Check the label to see how much cholesterol the food contains or ask the bakery if the recipe uses whole eggs. Limit these types of foods for occasional treats.

  • Egg whites have no cholesterol, and you can substitute them for whole eggs in recipes - two egg whites are equal to one whole egg. You can also use cholesterol-free egg substitute in place of whole eggs.

Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group

Like high fat meats, regular dairy foods that have fat - such as whole and 2% milk, cheese, and ice cream -- are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, dairy products are an important source of nutrients. You should eat 2 to 3 servings per day of low fat or nonfat dairy products. Here is a guide to buying low fat and nonfat dairy foods:


Buy fat free and 1% milk rather than whole or 2% milk. Fat free and 1% milk have just as much or more calcium and other nutrients as whole milk - with much less saturated fat and cholesterol.

If you now drink whole milk, you will probably find it easier to change to fat free milk in steps so your taste buds can adjust.


When looking for hard cheeses, go for the versions that are "fat free," "reduced fat," "low fat," or "part skim." Choose varieties that have 3 grams of fat or less per ounce.

When looking for soft cheeses, choose low fat (1%) or nonfat cottage cheese, farmer cheese, or part-skim or light ricotta. Some of these cheeses have 3 grams of fat or less per ounce.

If you are watching your sodium intake, choose lower sodium cheeses. Read the label to compare the sodium content.

Frozen Dairy Desserts

Buy frozen desserts that are lower in saturated fat, like ice milk, low fat frozen yogurt, low fat frozen dairy desserts, fruit ices, sorbets, and popsicles.

Other Dairy Foods

Buy low or nonfat yogurt; like many other dairy foods, it is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Eat low fat or nonfat yogurt alone or as a topping or in recipes. Try topping with fruit.

Try low fat or nonfat sour cream or cream cheese blends. Many taste as rich as the real thing, but have less fat and calories.

Fats and Oils

You can help to lower your blood cholesterol when you replace saturated fats with unsaturated fat. Just be sure to limit the total amount of fats or oils to keep calories in check.

When buying fats and oils, remember to:

  • Choose liquid vegetable oils that are high in unsaturated fats -- like canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils.

  • Buy margarine made with unsaturated liquid vegetable oils as the first ingredient. Choose soft tub or liquid margarine or vegetable oil spreads.

  • Limit butter, lard, fatback, and solid shortenings. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • Buy light or nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of the regular kind that are high in fat. For example, two tablespoons of regular Italian dressing can add as many as 14 grams of fat.

Fruits and Vegetables

You should be eating at least 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables are very low in saturated fat and total fat, and have no cholesterol. A diet high in fruit and vegetables may also help to improve cholesterol levels for those with high cholesterol. So, fruits and vegetables are great substitutes for foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

When shopping, remember to:

  • Buy fruits and vegetables to eat as snacks, desserts, salads, side dishes, and main dishes

  • Add a variety of vegetables to meat stews or casseroles or make a vegetarian (meatless) main dish.

  • Wash and cut up raw vegetables (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, etc.) and store in the refrigerator for quick and easy use in cooking or snacking.

  • Serve fresh fruit for dessert or freeze (banana, berries, melon, grapes) for a delicious frozen treat.

  • Display fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen to make fruit easier to grab as a snack.

To keep naturally low fat vegetables low in fat and saturated fat, season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, fat free or low fat mayonnaise or salad dressing.

Breads, Cereals, Rice, Pasta, and Other Grains

Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and other grains, and dry beans and peas are generally high in starch and fiber and low in saturated fat and calories. They also have no dietary cholesterol, except for some bakery breads and sweet bread products made with high fat, high cholesterol milk, butter and eggs.

Like fruits and vegetables, naturally low fat, low cholesterol breads and other foods in this group are also good choices. You should be eating 6 to 11 servings of foods from this group each day. If you have high triglycerides and/or low HDL, you should keep your carbohydrate intake below the maximum of 60% of total calories. You can choose a diet up to 35% fat, substituting unsaturated fat for saturated fat.

When buying foods from this group, remember to:

  • Choose whole grain breads and rolls often. They have more fiber than white breads.

  • Buy dry cereals, most are low in fat. Limit the high fat granola, muesli, and oat bran types that are made with coconut or coconut oil and nuts, which increases the saturated fat content. Add fat free milk or 1% milk instead of whole or low fat (2% milk) to save saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • Buy pasta and rice to use as entrees. Hold the high fat sauces (butter, cheese, cream, white).

  • Limit sweet baked goods that are made with lots of saturated fat, mostly from butter, eggs, and whole milk such as croissants, pastries, muffins, biscuits, butter rolls, and doughnuts. These are also high in cholesterol.

Sweets and Snacks

Some sweets and snacks -- like baked goods (cakes and cookies) cheese crackers, and some chips -- often are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Here are some low fat sweets and snacks to buy and use only now-and-then:

  • Food cake topped with fruit puree or fresh fruit slices

  • Fat free or low fat brownies, cakes, cheesecake, cupcakes, and pastries

  • Fat free or low fat cookies like animal crackers, devilís food cookies, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps, and vanilla or lemon wafers

  • Frozen low fat or nonfat yogurt, fruit ices, ice milk, sherbet, and sorbet

  • Gelatin desserts - watch the whipped cream!

  • Graham crackers

  • Puddings made with 1% or fat free milk

Just remember that, while these treats may be low in fat, most are not low in calories. So choose them only every now-and-then, especially if you are trying to control your weight to improve your blood cholesterol levels.

Not all snack foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Buy some of these low fat ones and keep them on hand for snack attacks:

  • Bagels

  • Bread sticks*

  • Ready-to-eat cereals without added sugar*

  • Frozen grapes or banana slices; or other fresh fruit

  • Fruit leather or other dried fruit

  • Low fat or fat free crackers* like melba toast, rice cakes, rye crisp, and soda crackers

  • No-oil baked tortilla chips*

  • Popcorn (air popped or "light")*

  • Pretzels*

  • Raw vegetables with nonfat or low fat dip

*If you are watching your sodium intake, be sure to look for low sodium or unsalted varieties.

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The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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