The TLC diet, which stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes, incorporates diet, exercise, and weight control with the ultimate goal of preventing heart disease caused by high LDL cholesterol. While cholesterol is a necessary part of any diet, it is vital to take in good cholesterol (HDL) and consume bad cholesterol (LDL) only in moderation. The TLC diet program is designed to teach people to do this while moderating their current cholesterol levels and moving towards a healthier lifestyle in general.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Association developed the TLC Diet program

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Association developed the TLC Diet Program as a means to combat high rates of heart disease throughout the country. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., and unhealthy cholesterol levels are a leading contributor. By following this program, those with less-than-optimal cholesterol levels can regain control of their health.

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The TLC Diet Program can improve or eliminate metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that contribute to the risk of heart disease. These factors include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL levels, high triglyceride levels, and a large waist measurement. Individuals who have three of these factors are considered to have metabolic syndrome and are at a higher risk for heart disease.

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The TLC Diet Program may eliminate the need for prescription medications

The TLC diet program was designed to accompany cholesterol-lowering medications with the intent of eventually eradicating the need for such medications in individuals who require them. Following the program naturally helps moderate cholesterol levels and contributes to healthy weight maintenance, which may eventually lessen the need for cholesterol-lowering medications.

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It's important to monitor dietary cholesterol and saturated fats

The diet portion of the program focuses primarily on the reduction of saturated fat and LDL cholesterol intake. Those following the program should intake no more than 7 percent of their calories from saturated fat and no more than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. Those who don't know how to calculate their intake can discuss with a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician.

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Healthy fats are vital

Healthy fats are vital to lowering bad cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats, in foods like olive oil, avocado, and peanut butter, are best and should be consumed each day. These fats help lower LDL levels without lowering HDL levels. Polyunsaturated fats should be eaten in moderation, as they help to lower LDL levels but can also reduce good cholesterol, which is important for optimum health.

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Followers should consume plenty of carbohydrates

50 to 60 percent of the TLC diet program consists of high-fiber carbohydrates. It's important to choose complex carbohydrates such as beans, lentils, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoidance of refined carbs high in sugar is vital, as these foods contain less fiber and are likely to cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

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Engage in daily exercise

The TLC diet program places as much emphasis on exercise as it does diet. Those following the program should try to get 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise each day. This includes activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, or even gardening. It's important to consult a doctor before embarking on any program that involves physical activity.

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Weight management is a key part of the TLC diet program.

Those following the TLC diet program are likely to shed some pounds as a side effect of incorporating healthy eating and exercise into their lifestyle. Being overweight is not only a contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease but is also a major contributor to diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes. The TLC diet program teaches healthy habits, such as eating three times a day and portion control, that help those who are overweight maintain a healthier weight.

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The TLC diet program is a total lifestyle change

While many diets we hear about are fad diets that promise quick weight loss and impractical eating habits, the TLC diet program is a long-term lifestyle change that incorporates healthy eating and physical activity for life. For it to work as intended, practitioners must commit to following the program full-time.

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People should follow the TLC diet program under doctor supervision

Healthy eating is good for everyone. However, it's important to consult a doctor prior to making any major change in diet or physical activity. In addition to ensuring safety, following the program under doctor supervision is the only way to cholesterol level improvement and determine if one also requires medication to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

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