Portfolio Diet: The Solution To Cholesterol


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Jan 18 2009 - 12:47pm
The portfolio diet

What if there was a combination of foods that were as effective at lowering LDL cholesterol as prescription drugs? Would it be worth adding some new foods to what you eat each day to avoid medication? A study about a new diet plan known as the portfolio diet shows that various foods, such as nuts, soy protein, oat bran, and plant sterols all can have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

This is what the latest in a series of research studies Dr. Jenkins from the University of Toronto shows. Studies have previously shown that various foods, such as nuts, soy protein, oat bran, and plant sterols all can have a cholesterol-lowering effect. But what if you combined all these foods together? Dr. Jenkins’ latest research shows that combining all these foods together is as effective as taking a statin drug. The results showed a 30.9% decrease in LDL cholesterol from the statin and a decrease of 28.2% from the portfolio combination of all these foods.

Dr. Jenkins is calling this a dietary portfolio, but it’s becoming known as ‘The Portfolio Diet’. The concept is to add all of these foods, in a type of portfolio plan, like investments, to cover all possibilities for better heart health. This is not a weight loss diet, however, although the concepts for weight loss and lowered cholesterol could certainly be combined, with proper education and guidance by a qualified nutrition expert.

What is the Portfolio Diet?

Just follow these guidelines:

1. Substitute soy foods for meat. Drink soy milk instead of milk and substitute soy protein foods for other meats.

2. Eat as much ‘sticky’ fiber as possible. People in the study took three daily servings of natural psyllium supplements. Oats and barley replace other grains and preferred vegetables include eggplant and okra.

3. Include plant sterol-enriched margarines, such as benecol and Take Control. Plant sterols are also available in capsule form as dietary supplements.

4. A handful of nuts every day. In the study, almonds were eaten and the Almond Board of California offers portfolio diet recipes on its website (look at recipes on http://www.almondboard.com/), but any tree nut will reduce cholesterol.

Here are some examples of a typical day:

Breakfast – Include soy milk in your portfolio diet, oat bran cereal with chopped fruit and almonds, oatmeal bread with sterol-enriched margarine, and some jam.

Lunch – Soy lunchmeats, oat bran bread, bean soup, fruit.

Dinner – Stir fry with vegetables, tofu, fruit and almonds.

Snacks – Include nuts, yogurt, and soy milk thickened with a psyllium supplement such as Metamucil.


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Has the portfolio diet shown to be effective?

Jenkins et al were curious how the portfolio diet would work in the real world, so they signed people up who said they wanted to lower their cholesterol levels. They told them what to eat and gave them sample menus -- but they didn't provide any prepared foods.


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I always believed that there is a certain limit for the quantity of active components of soy that could be ingested a day otherwise there is an increased risk of cancer. I don't think that promoting the use of any item should be done without specifying the amount in milligrams of its most active ingredients that could be ingested by human beings. There was a previous study that linked the excessive use of these soya products with increased incidence of breast cancers in females
Cutting down on meats (poultry is also meat!) is a good idea. But no food should be eaten too often because the more often we eat a food, the likelier we are to develop an allergy. And especially not soy, a mono-crop that now is often gene-manipulated. Besides, one study showed that not soy is protective of breast cancer - only FERMENTED soy (miso, tempeh). Any one single food item blown out of proportion will only help big agro-business. The idea is rotation: Eat what is in season at your local farmer or supermarket. Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author. http://members.authorsguild.net/fleckenstein/blog.htm
I really want to try this diet but it would have to be modified because I am allergic to soy products. I would like to see an article offering substitutions for soy. Would small portions of chicken breast, tuna, white fish and pork suffice?
I have just discovered my total cholesterol to be >10! My doctor suggested this diet to try for 3 mos to see if I could lower the total without meds. I would love a diet plan or list of foods for the portfolio diet. I would really appreciate if you could provide this for me. Thanks...Christine