You have heard of the Mediterranean, Keto, Vegan, Paleo and MIND diet but have you heard of the Portfolio Diet?
It is actually a “diet without being a diet” as it was designed to work with any healthy food choices to lower cholesterol levels by keeping a focus on 4 food groups in most or all meals. Originally published by David Jenkins, MD and researches at the University of Toronto in 2002, it has gained new support. I frequently mention the Portfolio Diet on my podcast (Heart Doc VIP) and routinely give information on it to patients at the Kahn Center.
In 2002, Dr. Jenkins noted that plant sterols (found in sesame and sunflower seeds and avocados), soy proteins (found in tofu, edamame, tempeh), nuts, and viscous fibers (found in oats, oat bran) were advised for cholesterol reduction but their combined effect had never been tested. They evaluated eating a diet with this “portfolio” of added food choices and showed that LDL cholesterol fell by 29% in a month versus baseline levels. The reduction was similar to another group given a low dose statin medication and most of the changes were seen as soon as 2 weeks.
Recently, the Portfolio diet, using these plant-based foods of plant soy proteins, nuts, viscous fiber and plant sterols was assessed from dietary records in 123,330 women in the Women’s Health Initiative study from 1993 to 2017. Heart disease outcomes were assessed and the impact of adhering to the Portfolio Diet was measured in an average follow up of 15 years. Adherence to the Portfolio Diet was associated with a lower risk of all heart events (11% lower), heart attacks (14% lower), and heart failure (17% lower). The authors concluded from this non-randomized study that “higher adherence to the Portfolio Diet was associated with a reduction in incident cardiovascular and coronary events, as well as heart failure. These findings warrant further investigation in other populations”.
What do you do? If you take an example of a 2,000-calorie diet that incorporates nuts, legumes, and various sources of dietary fiber, a breakdown of what’s included might look like this:
Overall, the Portfolio Diet is a great plan to lower your cholesterol without medication or as an add on to necessary Rx drugs. It can be done with an all plant-based diet or as part of a MED diet plan. Adding plant sterol, nuts, fiber, and soy proteins is a winning plan for all diets.