If you have high cholesterol, specifically the “lousy” LDL variety, then this diet could help. A study published in July of last year reported the portfolio diet improved LDL dramatically more than a standard heart healthy diet low in saturated fat.
This “study of the studies” included seven clinical trials and was published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. In 439 people the researchers found that following the portfolio diet for 4 to 24 weeks reduce LDL by 27% compared to 10% for people following a low saturated fat control diet. These results show the power of food as the LDL reductions occurred without exercise and weight loss. Which is more good news, as having a well rounded lifestyle approach including exercise, weight loss (if needed), adequate sleep, and stress management could result in even greater benefits to cholesterol.
What is the Portfolio Diet?
It’s in the name: The portfolio is just that, a selection of healthy plant foods you can select from to improve your heart health. Think of the foods as a menu of healthy options, pick the ones you like! Choose one component to start with and build from there. Of course, the bigger the dietary change, the bigger the impact, each component has been shown to lower cholesterol by 5 to 10%.
- 50 grams a day of plant protein. Think beans, tofu, soy milk, edamame, tempeh, veggie burgers. See this post for many ways to enjoy beans.
- 45 grams a day of nuts (or seeds). Add to breakfast cereals, eat a handful as snack, sprinkle on salads and soups.
- 20 grams a day of soluble fiber. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Include foods high in soluble fiber: oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, berries.
- 2 grams a day of plant sterols. While these compounds occur naturally in foods, to get this amount you will need to look for fortified foods (spreads and yogurts) or take a supplement.