Question: So what is the buzz about a “Portfolio Diet” that can lower cholesterol as much as a statin drug?
The portfolio diet came from researchers at the University of Toronto that created a mix of foods that has been proven to lower cholesterol and heart disease risk as much as a statin drug such as Lipitor. Lipitor is the top selling drug in the US with 25% of the population taking it. The Portfolio diet is even more powerful than the TLC diet from the National Cholesterol Education Program that we discussed earlier.
Question: What do I get to eat on the portfolio diet?
The Portfolio Diet is largely a vegetarian diet that has a mix of cholesterol lowering foods. It is the combination of foods that have the most benefit for heart health. It includes soluble fiber (the kind that absorbs water) such as oat bran, beans and barley 10-20g/day, Nuts: one ounce or about 23 almonds/day, soy protein: about 25g/day from whole soy foods such as tofu, edamame or tempe and plant sterols such as those found in the Promise Activ margarine, Benecol margarine or Minute Maid heart wise orange juice. 2 grams/day of plant sterols are recommended and this can come from a supplement such as Cholest-off as well.
Question: That sounds hard to figure out; how do I learn more about the Portfolio eating plan?
Your best bet is to meet one-on-one with a Registered Dietitian who can taylor the eating plan to you. It is a challenging diet to follow as it is so different from the typical American diet. However, even adding a few of the suggested foods such as eating nuts more regularly and eating more plant stanols such as those in the enriched margarines can make a big difference in lowering harmful LDL cholesterol.