Saturday, March 11, 2006

Portfolio diet attacks cholesterol

Cholesterol-lowering foods such as soy protein, almonds, plant sterol enriched margarines, oats and barley may reduce cholesterol levels more effectively when eaten in combination, says a new study.

After 12 months, more than 30 per cent of the participants had successfully adhered to the diet and lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 20 per cent. This rate is comparable to the results achieved by 29 of the participants who took a statin for one month under metabolically controlled conditions before following the diet under real-world conditions.

"The benefit of statins to individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease is not in question here. Emphasizing diet changes in general can boost the success rate of statins while providing additional health benefits and a possible alternative for those for whom drugs are not a viable option."

"Taking a pill may give people the false impression that they have nothing further to do to protect their health and prevent them from making serious lifestyle changes."

Basics of the Portfolio Eating Plan:

Along with 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the portfolio diet recipe for lower cholesterol focuses on four kinds of food:
  • The portfolio diet substitutes soy-based foods for meat. "We are looking at soy-based meat substitutes such as soy burgers, soy hot dogs, and soy cold cuts," Jenkins says. "And we also used soy milk as a dairy substitute."
  • The portfolio diet incorporates as much sticky fiber as possible. Those on the portfolio diet take three daily servings of the natural psyllium product Metamucil -- many use it to thicken their soymilk. Oats and barley replace other grains; preferred vegetables include eggplant and okra.
  • The portfolio diet replaces butter and margarine with plant sterol-enriched margarine. U.S. brands include Benecol and Take Control and brands in other countries are Becel and Flora pro-activ. Plant sterols are also available in capsule form as dietary supplements.
  • The portfolio diet includes nuts. Study participants ate a handful of almonds every day. The Almond Board of California backs portfolio diet research and offers portfolio diet recipes on its web site. However, other tree nuts also help reduce cholesterol.

Detailed information on the The Portfolio Eating Plan


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