TLC diet for lowering cholesterol – rules and effects

The TLC diet is a nutritional protocol designed to lower your cholesterol level. To its effects we mainly include decreasing blood LDL level by 8-10% within 6 weeks and a reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The TLC diet is low in fat, especially of animal origin; recommends eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It is rich in soluble fibre and plant sterols, which additionally contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. The TLC diet is effective in preventing heart disease, but it is difficult to apply without the help of a dietitian.

TLC diet – rules

The TLC diet assumes close participation of individual nutrients, in particular the reduction of hydrogenated vegetable fats and saturated fatty acids of animal origin. The content of nutrients in the daily menu should be

  • saturated fatty acids – less than 7% of the total energy of the menu
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids – up to 10% of the total energy of the menu
  • monounsaturated fatty acids – up to 20% of the total energy of the menu
  • cholesterol – less than 200 mg per day
  • carbohydrates – 50-60% of the total energy of the menu
  • fibre – at least 5-10 grams a day
  • protein – approx. 15% of the total energy of the menu
  • sodium – less than 2,300 mg per day
Effects of too high cholesterol level
Effects of too high cholesterol level

TLC diet – effects

The diet should reduce the level of bad LDL cholesterol by 8-10% within 6 weeks. If not, introduce 2 g of plant sterols and stanols (phytosterols) per day in the form of enriched margarine beneficial to the heart and increase the proportion of soluble fibre from 10 to even 25 g per day.

In the TLC diet, the most important thing is to limit the caloric intake from trans fats and saturated fats of animal origin. They contribute to the increase in the level of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood, the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, and increase the risk of a heart attack and heart diseases. Trans fats can be found in hard margarine, sweets, fast food and instant foods, while saturated fats include fatty meats and its products, butter and fatty dairy products such as yellow cheese.

Plant sterols and stanols are very effective in lowering cholesterol, as they resemble cholesterol and thus inhibit its absorption into the bloodstream. The therapeutic dose of sterols is about 2 g per day. To get it with the dietary sources, fortified foods such as soft margarine must be consumed. This allows you to lower your LDL levels by 5-15% within a few weeks. The TLC diet recommends eating oily sea fish twice a week because they provide omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce triglyceride levels, have a positive effect on the heart and reduce the risk of a heart attack.

Products recommended in the TLC diet

Grain products whole-grain bread, rice, wholemeal pasta, groats, cereals, low-fat crackers and cookies – 6 or more servings daily; depending on the caloric requirement

Vegetables, legumes– 3-5 servings a day

Fruits – 2-4 servings a day

Skim or low-fat dairy yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, milk, cottage cheese – 2-3 servings a day

Eggs – a maximum of 2 yolks per week, taking into account those used in the preparation of dishes

Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish – less than 150 g per day

Fats and oils, mainly vegetable oils – up to 35% of the caloric requirement

TLC Diet – What To Avoid?

  • saturated fatty acids of butter, lard, palm and coconut oil
  • trans fat in confectionery, crisps and other salty snacks, powdered food, ready meals, fast food
  • fatty pork, lamb, beef and their preserves, offal
  • egg yolks

The pros and cons of the TLC diet


  • effective in lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • can be used by people of all ages
  • properly balanced, it has a slimming effect
  • based on products beneficial for health
  • ensures proper nutrition of the body
  • calorific value is adjusted individually to the concrete person needs


  • difficult at the start
  • requires counting calories and the content of individual nutrients
  • requires extensive nutritional knowledge and the ability to read ingredients and nutritional tables
  • nearly impossible to achieve by the average person without the help of a dietitian
  • it imposes many restrictions on the choice of products and food preparation, which may discourage its long-term usage