A portfolio diet or a plant-based way of eating can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, including blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation, says a new study done by the University of Toronto. The researchers stated that in addition to reducing LDL (or bad) cholesterol by about 30% when combined with a low-saturated fat diet, the researchers found the diet limited other factors for an estimated 13% reduction in the overall risk for coronary heart disease, which includes angina and heart attack.
What’s the diet all about?
The portfolio diet has four main components. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, it includes 45 grams of nuts, or about a handful; 50 grams of plant protein such as soy, or pulses like beans and peas; 20 grams of viscous soluble fibre from oats, eggplant and apples; and 2 grams of plant sterols — natural compounds that inhibit absorption of cholesterol and are often included in enriched products like margarine. Dietary and lifestyle modifications can enable patients to manage high cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.
Associate professor, John Sievenpiper said, “We’ve known the portfolio diet lowers LDL cholesterol, but we didn’t have a clear picture of what else it could do. This study allows for greater clarity and certainty about the effects of the diet and its health potential.”
How it helps
“We’re starting to say to patients: This diet will help you meet your cholesterol goals, but it will also improve your blood lipids and blood pressure, and lower inflammation,” said Sievenpiper.
Adherence to the diet can be challenging for some patients, but many find that incorporating just a few more plant-based foods offers noticeable benefits. Some patients also choose the portfolio diet for ethical and environmental reasons: Plant-based diets generally have a smaller eco-footprint than standard Western diets or in the case of children, to head off future health problems.
The full findings are present in the journal — Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.