The Heart-Healthy TLC Diet

Setting Your Goal

Before you start incorporating the TLC diet into your daily life, it's a good idea to take a look at your current cholesterol numbers. You may know what your cholesterol levels are, but you may not know what that means or what those numbers ideally should be.
When setting your goals for cholesterol levels, here are some general guidelines for what to shoot for (the levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, or mg/dL).
LDL Levels
("Bad" Cholesterol)
HDL Levels
("Good" Cholesterol)
Total Cholesterol
Less than 100 = Optimal (ideal)
Less than 40 = Major risk for heart disease
Less than 200 = Desirable
100–129 = Near optimal
60 and above = Provides some protection against heart disease
200 –239 = Borderline high
130–159 = Borderline high
240 and above = High
160–189 = High
190 and above = Very high
If you already have heart disease, it's especially important for you to lower your LDL to reduce your risk of another heart attack.
The TLC diet uses four different categories of heart disease risk to set your LDL goals and steps for treatment. The higher your risk category, the more you will have to lower your LDL levels. For example, if you have heart disease or diabetes, you have the highest risk factors and are considered in category 1. This means that you will need to lower your LDL levels to below 100 mg/dL. If you have only one risk factor, you are considered a category 4, which means you need to lower your LDL to less than 160 mg/dL.
During the first three months of the TLC diet, you will focus on lowering your LDL cholesterol to its goal level through diet and exercise. Your healthcare provider will regularly review your progress and can adjust your treatment regimen as needed to get your LDL cholesterol down to its goal level.
In many cases, people will be able to lower their LDL adequately enough with the TLC diet alone. However, in some cases, you may need to take a cholesterol-lowering medication. This medicine is not meant to take the place of the TLC diet. However, by following the TLC diet, it can help ensure you only have to take the lowest possible dose of your medication (see Cholesterol Lowering Drugs).
As mentioned previously, the way in which the TLC diet calculates your risk and sets your LDL goal is outdated. But the basic structure of the diet is sound.
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