womens guide
What is Cholesterol
Good & Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol Levels
Lowering Cholesterol
Cholesterol Medication
Diseases & Complications
Causes of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol Smart Diets
Nutritional Levels
Meats & Dairy
Fats & Fruit
Carbs & Sweets
Eating Out

Lowering Cholesterol Through the Diet Changes

Lifestyle is a set of things you can do to help lower your LDL cholesterol. In addition to weight control and physical activity, dietary changes are a key means with which to lower your cholesterol.

The TLC 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 intakes, the amount of soluble fiber in your diet can be increased. Certain food products that contain plant stanols or plant sterols (for example, cholesterol-lowering margarines) can also be added to the TLC diet to boost its LDL-lowering power.

Foods low in saturated fat include fat-free or 1 percent dairy products, lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, whole grain foods, and fruits and vegetables. Look for soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) that are low in saturated fat and contain little or no trans fat (another type of dietary fat that can raise your cholesterol level). Limit foods high in cholesterol such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, and full-fat dairy products.

Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, certain fruits (such as oranges and pears) and vegetables (such as brussel sprouts and carrots), and dried peas and beans.

USDA Food Guide and DASH Eating Plan for Cholesterol Health

Amounts of various food groups that are recommended each day or each week in the USDA Food Guide and in the DASH Eating Plan (amounts are daily unless otherwise specified) at the 2,000-calorie level. Also identified are equivalent amounts for different food choices in each group. To follow either eating pattern, food choices over time should provide these amounts of food from each group on average.

Food Groups and Subgroups

USDA Food Guide Amount (b)

DASH Eating Plan Amount

Equivalent Amounts

Fruit Group

2 cups (4 servings)

2 to 2.5 cups
(4 to 5 servings)

½ cup equivalent is:

· ½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit

· 1 med fruit

· ¼ cup dried fruit

· USDA: ½ cup fruit juice

· DASH: ¾ cup fruit juice

Vegetable Group

· Dark green vegetables

· Orange vegetables

· Legumes (dry beans)

· Starchy vegetables

· Other vegetables

2.5 cups (5 servings)
3 cups/week
2 cups/week
3 cups/week
3 cups/week
6.5 cups/week

2 to 2.5 cups
(4 to 5 servings)

½ cup equivalent is:

· ½ cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetable

· 1 cup raw leafy vegetable

· USDA: ½ cup vegetable juice

· DASH: ¾ cup vegetable juice

Grain Group

· Whole grains

· Other grains

6 ounce-equivalents
3 ounce-equivalents
3 ounce-equivalents

7 to 8 ounce-equivalents
(7 to 8 servings)

1 ounce-equivalent is:

· 1 slice bread

· 1 cup dry cereal

· ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, cereal

· DASH: 1 oz dry cereal (½-1¼ cup depending on cereal type—check label)

Meat and Beans Group

5.5 ounce-equivalents

6 ounces or less meat, poultry, fish 

1 ounce-equivalent is:

· 1 ounce of cooked lean meats, poultry, fish

· 1 egg

· USDA: ¼  cup cooked dry beans or tofu, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, ½ oz nuts or seeds

· DASH: 1½ oz nuts, ½ oz seeds, ½ cup cooked dry beans 



4 to 5 servings per week nuts, seeds, and dry beans (c)

Milk Group

3 cups

2 to 3 cups

1 cup equivalent is:

· 1 cup low-fat/fat-free milk, yogurt

· 1½ oz of low-fat or fat-free natural cheese

·  2 oz of low-fat or fat-free processed cheese


27 grams (6 tsp)

8 to 12 grams (2 to 3 tsp)

1 tsp equivalent is:

· DASH: 1 tsp soft margarine

· 1 Tbsp low-fat mayo

· 2 Tbsp light salad dressing

· 1 tsp vegetable oil

Discretionary Calorie Allowance

· Example of distribution:
       Solid fat (d)
       Added sugars

267 calories

18 grams
8 tsp

~2 tsp of added sugar (5 Tbsp per week)

1 Tbsp added sugar equivalent is:

· DASH: 1 Tbsp jelly or jam

· ½ oz jelly beans

· 8 oz lemonade

a All servings are per day unless otherwise noted. USDA vegetable subgroup amounts and amounts of DASH nuts, seeds, and dry beans are per week.

b The 2,000-calorie USDA Food Guide is appropriate for many sedentary males 51 to 70 years of age, sedentary females 19 to 30 years of age, and for some other gender/age groups who are more physically active.

c In the DASH Eating Plan, nuts, seeds, and dry beans are a separate food group from meat, poultry, and fish.

d The oils listed in this table are not considered to be part of discretionary calories because they are a major source of the vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acids, in the food pattern. In contrast, solid fats (i.e., saturated and trans fats) are listed separately as a source of discretionary calories.


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