In brief | Eat food groups known to lower the artery-clogging LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your blood.
Canadian doctors wondered what would happen if they pooled various cholesterol-lowering foods in one eating plan. The resulting Portfolio Diet cuts LDL cholesterol “almost as much as a statin drug” like Lipitor, says plan cocreator Cyril Kendall, MD, PhD, research associate at the University of Toronto. This means you can achieve a clinically significant reduction in your cholesterol without chancing the well-documented side effects of statins, such as muscle aches and brain fog.
Are you a fan of almonds? The eggplant dip baba ghanoush? Tofu stir-fry? These are the kinds of foods you eat more of on the Portfolio Diet. The plan calls for adding a variety of foods to your daily menu: 42 grams nuts; 15 grams soluble fiber (found in carbs such as beans, eggplant, okra, barley, flaxseed and oats, as well as the psyllium husks sold in health food stores); 25 grams soy proteins (you’ll need four servings of tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy burgers and edamame); and 2 grams plant-sterol oils, which are used as a food additive in spreads such as Promise Activ.
People with high cholesterol who followed the Portfolio Diet for six months saw a drop in LDL levels of 13 percent, compared with a 3 percent decline for those on a conventional low-saturated-fat plan, according to a study reported last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (A very high dose of statins can lower your cholesterol by 50 percent, and a low dose by 18 to 25 percent, so this diet best suits people with mildly to moderately high cholesterol.) In a sign of further protection against heart disease, Portfolio Diet followers also experienced a decline in blood pressure and triglycerides.
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A day on the diet
1 cup oatmeal sprinkled with ½ cup strawberriesand 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 orangeand 23 almonds or other tree nuts
Salad of lettuce, tomatoesand peppers, topped with 5 olives, 1 ounce feta cheeseand 1 to 2 tablespoons Greek dressing
Handful of carrot sticksor pita chipsdipped in ¼ cup hummus
½ cup edamame
1 soy burgerwith lettuceand tomatoon a bunspread with 1 to 2 tablespoons plant-sterol margarine
½ cup baked beans
Berry-banana smoothie, made by blending 1 cup soy milk, ½ banana, 1 cup berries, ½ teaspoon psylliumand ice
One-day plan created for Moreby Kathleen Humbert, RD, a clinical dietitian in the lipid and prevention program at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
The Core Food Plan
Goal: Reduce your risk of chronic disease
In brief | Vegetables reign supreme.