Portfolio Diet: Recipe for Lower Cholesterol
For lower cholesterol, fit 4 cholesterol-fighting foods into your diet portfolio.
Putting Cholesterol-Lowering Securities in Your Diet Portfolio continued...
- 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." For Thanksgiving, he suggests, one might replace turkey with
- 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.
The foods in the portfolio diet are available in supermarkets and health
food stores. A typical day on the portfolio diet offers:
- Breakfast. Including soy milk, oat-bran cereal with
chopped fruit and almonds, oatmeal bread, sterol-enriched margarine, and
- Lunch. Including soy cold cuts, oat-bran bread, bean soup,
- Dinner. Including stir-fry with vegetables, tofu, fruit,
- Snacks. Including nuts, yogurt, and soy milk thickened
Does the Portfolio Diet Work?
Jenkins and colleagues have shown that people who religiously follow the
portfolio diet can lower their cholesterol. But how does it work in the real
To find out, they signed up people who said they wanted lower cholesterol.
They told them what to eat and gave them sample menus -- but they didn't
provide any prepared foods.
"Just about a third of them get very good results, with better than a
20% reduction in the 'bad' LDL cholesterol after six months," Jenkins says.
"Those results are constant from two weeks to six months. So after two
weeks you can say, 'These are the people who are likely to stay the
Another 31% of participants had about a 15% reduction in LDL cholesterol
with the portfolio diet. But 35% of participants failed to lower their
cholesterol, probably because they weren't able to follow the portfolio
"Most people complied with the advice to eat almonds and to substitute
plant sterol products for margarine," Jenkins said. "But fewer people
were able to use soy milk and soy dogs and tofu instead of meat and dairy.
Having said that, people who were fairly robust at being able to whip up
something at home tended to do best. Those who relied on packaged goods or had
to eat out a lot had more of a problem."