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Tips for Healthy Eating

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has established dietary guidelines as part of its "Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes" (TLC) program to help people reduce their cholesterol levels.

According to these guidelines, you should...
  • Consume only enough calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight
  • Get less than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat
  • Consume less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol
  • Get 25-35 percent of your daily calories from total fat (including saturated fat)
  • Lower your cholesterol further with
      -- 2 grams per day of plant stanols or sterols
      -- 10-25 grams per day of soluble fiber
In addition to diet, the TLC program recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) every day.

Sorting through the confusion

Frankly, keeping track of what you're eating every day is easier said than done. People often find it helpful to keep a log of exactly what they eat, and when. But even then, who knows what's in your food?

One important tip is to read food labels. Content labels appear on packaged food products and are also provided by fast food restaurants. They'll let you know how much total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, and protein are in a product. You can use this information to compare the contents of different brands. Labels may also serve as a warning about some foods you should avoid all together if you're trying to lose weight or lower your cholesterol.

You can visit the NHLBI Web site at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov for complete information on how to implement a cholesterol-lowering diet.