The TLC diet

Now that you know all about heart disease, how it’s caused, and the risk factors for future development. It’s time to learn how to eat to protect yourself from developing heart disease.

TLC stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes and this diet is aimed at lowering cholesterol in order to reduce the risk for heart disease in the future. This diet is a mix between the Mediterranean diet and a high fiber diet. It was originally just a study to see the correlation between diet and heart health and is now recommended by NIH for lowering cholesterol. These are the guidelines for following the diet:

  • Calories: Total calorie intake should only be enough to maintain weight.
  • Total fat: Fat should take up 25-35% of total daily intake
  • Saturated fat: Saturated fat needs to be restricted to less than 7% of calories
  • Monounsaturated fats: MUFA’s should be up to 20% of daily calories
  • Polyunsaturated fats: PUFA’s should be up to 10% of daily calories
  • Cholesterol: Cholesterol is restricted to less than 200 mg/day
  • Plant stanol/sterol: 2-3 grams of plant stanols’sterols should be introduced to the diet each day
  • Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates should take up 50-60% of total calories
  • Fiber:Fiber intake should be 20-30 grams per day

Now that you know what your daily intake is supposed to look like, it’s time to learn where to get all of these nutrients from.

Calories: Calories come from 4 sources: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol. Both carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram. Fats have 9 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.

Saturated fat: Common sources of saturated fat include: animal fat, dairy and fried foods.

MUFA: Common sources of MUFAs include: olive, sunflower, canola, and peanut oils.

PUFA: Some common sources of PUFAs include: sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed oils; and nuts. Omega 3’s are a type of PUFA that most people have heard of and good sources are tuna, salmon, and mackerel.

Cholesterol: Some sources high in cholesterol are organ meats such as liver, egg yolks, and shellfish.

Plant stanols/sterols: These are found in most plants in very small amounts. In order to get 2-3 grams, you must eat products that are fortified. Some of these are margarine and orange juice.


Insoluble fiber: Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, fruits with skin, vegetables and legumes

Soluble fiber: Good sources of soluble fiber include psyllium seeds, citrus fruits, lima beans and Brussels sprouts. 

Knowing how much of these substances to eat and where to get them from is great, but do you know why to avoid or get more of these substances? Here is what they do in your body and how it effects your heart.

Saturated fat: saturated fats increase LDL-cholesterol in the blood by decreasing LDL-c breakdown in the body.

MUFA: MUFA’s decrease triglyceride and LDL levels in the blood.

PUFA: PUFA’s decrease triglyceride levels more than MUFA’s and decrease LDL-c, but they also decrease HDL-cholesterol somewhat.

Dietary cholesterol: dietary cholesterol generally increases LDL-c and total cholesterol.

Plant stanols/sterols: plant stanols/sterols significantly decrease LDL-cholesterol in the blood.

Soluble fiber: soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel, then binds to cholesterol and they are excreted out of the body together.

Insoluble fiber: insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.

For more information regarding the TLC diet and meal plans. Visit:

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2 Responses to The TLC diet

  1. Joe C says:

    Very well done, I like the information in your blog because it is easy to decipher the progression and intent. I am curious, though, if you came across any research regarding plant stanols and sterols and their physiological role in the body? During my research on antioxidants & free radicals, plant stanols and sterols were referenced as antioxidant compounds but I found no in-depth information regarding their biological role or action mechanisms. Did you find any information regarding how they work or means by which they contribute to health? I would love to hear more on that topic. Great post overall, though!

  2. Jay G says:

    What a great post Brendan! I noticed that all of your information was written out in a sensible format, which made navigating throughout the post easy. Now only if MNT was this clear and straight cut!

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