A series of University of Toronto research studies have shown that sticking to something called the “portfolio diet” (no, it’s not a Vanguard thing) can lower cholesterol, potentially keeping people off cholesterol-lowering perscription drugs. It’s also very recession-friendly.
Is it a coincidence that a diet that keeps people off meat and perscription drugs also happens to coincide with tough financial times? Research-wise, it probably is. But if you look at the contents of the diet, you can see that its budget-friendliness is probably helping its PR efforts.
Marjorie Geiser of EMax Health covers the diet:
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.
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? (New) 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.
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.
The portfolio diet is meager fare compared Atkins diet, where expensive steaks are a regular staple. And if it gets you off prescription drugs, it’s even better for your pocketbook. I doubt that the timing is deliberate, but it is interesting to see something like this being marketed during a serious economic crisis.
Look for the turnip soup diet if things get worse during the next year.