If you’ve been diagnosed with a cardiovascular (heart) condition, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart failure, or if you are at-risk for developing heart problems, your doctor may recommend you make a few lifestyle changes. There are several small steps you can take today to help you live a more heart-healthy life.
Many healthcare providers will recommend the therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) diet for people with heart conditions. The TLC diet is specially designed to help lower your cholesterol. It will also have a positive impact on lowering your blood pressure and will help improve your overall cardiovascular health. While the TLC diet is designed help maintain a healthy heart, it will not necessarily help you to lose weight. If this is your primary goal, talk to your doctor for advice on how you can lose weight safely.
The TLC diet consists of the following guidelines:
�Limit your daily caloric intake to 2,000 calories or less. You should not be eating more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight. The number of calories you need depends on your height, weight, gender, and activity level. There are several websites that can help you keep track of all these important health care measurements. There are some online health tracking tools which allow you to store all your health care measurements and then monitor how they change over time
�Less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Saturated fats are frequently referred to as the �bad� or �unhealthy� fats. They are usually solid at room temperature and often come from animals. Foods such as butter, eggs, meats, and cheeses are known for being high in saturated fat. If you are following a 2,000-calorie diet, you should limit your intake to less than 15 grams of saturated fat per day.
�Less than 25-30 percent of your calories should come from fat. Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats usually come from plants, fish, and nuts and are liquid at room temperature. Cooking oils such as olive oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil are also high in unsaturated fats. While unsaturated fats are generally considered healthier than saturated fats, it’s important to limit the amount of both you eat each day. If you are following a 2,000-calorie diet, you should aim to eat less than 67 grams of fat each day.
�You should not consume more than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. Cholesterol is a compound that your body makes naturally. It can also come from what you eat. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, or any other cardiovascular condition, it is important you don’t add extra cholesterol to your diet.
�Add plant stanols or sterols, as well as soluble fiber, to your diet. Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower your cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are all high in soluble fiber. If you are following a 2,000-calorie diet, it is recommended you consume around 10-25 grams of soluble fiber per day.