Changing Your Diet
In most cases, the first step in treating cholesterol is changing your diet. An eating plan that can help lower cholesterol includes:
- Limiting the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat.
- Eating only enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
- Increasing the soluble fiber in your diet. For instance, oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples are good sources of soluble fiber.
- Adding cholesterol-lowering food (such as margarines that contain plant sterol or stanol esters).
A specific diet for lowering cholesterol (called the TLC diet) has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels (see Low Cholesterol Diet). This is a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan that calls for less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. The TLC diet recommends only enough calories to maintain a desirable weight and avoid weight gain.
If your LDL is not lowered enough by reducing your saturated fat and cholesterol intake, the amount of soluble fiber in your diet can be increased. Certain food products that contain plant stanol or plant sterols (for example, cholesterol-lowering margarines) can also be added to the TLC diet to boost its LDL-lowering power (see Cholesterol Lowering Food).