What Is the Portfolio Diet, and Does It Lower Cholesterol? – Healthline

Posted: July 26, 2021 at 1:48 am

If youve been encouraged to improve your cholesterol levels, you may have heard about the Portfolio Diet.

This is an eating pattern designed to lower cholesterol levels. Unlike most other diets, it doesnt set strict rules or restrictions about which foods you should eat or avoid.

Instead, it focuses on a few key ingredients that have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels.

This article takes a closer look at the Portfolio Diet, including what it is, how it works, and whether its effective.

The Portfolio Diet was created by Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, a British physician whos also credited with developing the concept of the glycemic index (GI).

The plan is designed to lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health by adding certain cholesterol-lowering foods to your diet.

In particular, the diet focuses on four key ingredients:

According to proponents of the plan, eating more of these foods can significantly lower your cholesterol levels to protect against heart disease.

The Portfolio Diet is a diet plan designed to lower your cholesterol levels by including more soy protein, plant sterols, nuts, and soluble fiber in your diet.

The concept of the Portfolio Diet is straightforward. Simply replace certain foods in your diet with other ingredients that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

For example, replace meat and dairy with soy protein like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy-based deli meats or burgers.

Instead of using butter, the Portfolio Diet encourages using margarine enriched with plant sterols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring plant compounds shown to reduce your bodys absorption of cholesterol (1).

Your diet should also include at least one serving of tree nuts per day, such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.

Additionally, the Portfolio Diet promotes foods high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a thick, gel-like substance in your digestive tract. It can improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce blood sugar spikes (2).

Fruits, vegetables, oats, legumes, and flaxseed are a few examples of foods rich in soluble fiber.

Heres how much of each component you should aim to eat per day:

If you struggle to get enough soluble fiber or plant sterols through your diet, you can consider also taking a psyllium fiber or plant sterol supplement.

The Portfolio Diet encourages you to swap out certain foods in your diet for cholesterol-lowering alternatives.

The Portfolio Diet encourages many foods that can help lower cholesterol levels.

On this diet, try to eat several servings of foods rich in soluble fiber, plant sterols, and soy protein each day, including nutrient-dense options like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Here are some examples of foods to eat on the Portfolio Diet:

In addition to the foods listed above, the diet encourages the use of certain supplements, including psyllium fiber and plant sterols.

The Portfolio Diet doesnt eliminate any foods from your diet or specify which ingredients to limit. Still, avoiding certain foods may maximize the potential heart health benefits.

Here are some foods to limit or avoid on the Portfolio Diet:

The Portfolio Diet encourages nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Although there are no guidelines for which foods to avoid, limiting your intake of added sugar and highly processed foods may be beneficial.

All four ingredients encouraged on the Portfolio Diet have been shown to reduce cholesterol:

Several studies have found that the Portfolio Diet may decrease cholesterol levels.

For example, one review assessed the effectiveness of the Portfolio Diet and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step II diet a program that limits your intake of fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol (6).

Combining the two diets decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, inflammation, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure all of which are risk factors for heart disease more than the NCEP Step II diet alone (6).

In another study, people with high cholesterol who followed the Portfolio Diet for 6 months experienced significant reductions in both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels compared with a control group (7).

Further, a 2005 study found that the Portfolio Diet was as effective as statins cholesterol-lowering prescription medications at reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Both methods lowered LDL cholesterol to below 3.4 mmol/L, which is considered a healthy level (8).

Multiple studies have found that the Portfolio Diet can significantly reduce cholesterol levels and improve several other risk factors for heart disease.

The Portfolio Diet may be hard to follow in some cases, especially if youre used to eating a lot of processed foods and meat.

Additionally, because it doesnt have any strict rules or restrictions about which foods you can or cant eat, it may not be a suitable option if you prefer a more structured eating plan with clear instructions.

Since the diet is only intended to lower your cholesterol levels, consider trying a different plan if youre also looking to lose weight or improve other aspects of your health.

Its also not suitable for those with an allergy to soy or tree nuts, since both are key components of the diet.

Furthermore, the diet focuses on which foods you should eat and doesnt take into account other factors that affect your cholesterol levels, such as getting the right amount of sleep, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels (9, 10, 11).

Therefore, combining the Portfolio Diet with other healthy habits may be a better way to maximize your results.

This diet is not ideal if youre looking for clear instructions, have certain food allergies, or are looking to improve other aspects of your health. It focuses only on foods to eat and doesnt account for other factors that affect cholesterol levels.

Heres a 3-day sample menu for the Portfolio Diet:

The sample menu above offers some ideas for meals, drinks, and snacks to enjoy on the Portfolio Diet.

The Portfolio Diet is a plan designed to help lower your cholesterol levels by adding specific foods to your diet.

Studies show that it may help reduce cholesterol levels and improve other risk factors for heart disease.

However, it may not be a good fit for those who have dietary restrictions, are looking to lose weight, or prefer a more structured diet plan.

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What Is the Portfolio Diet, and Does It Lower Cholesterol? - Healthline

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