The so-called portfolio diet is a diet designed to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A new study now suggests that this dietary pattern could also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A lesser-known eating pattern called the portfolio diet could reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is the conclusion reached by researchers from North America. Their study results were recently published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.
Selected “portfolio” of healthy foods
As the AHA explains in a statement, this diet includes a select “portfolio” of plant-based proteins such as soy and other legumes; Foods with viscous fiber such as oats, barley, berries, apples and citrus fruits; nuts and seeds; phytosterols, which reduce cholesterol absorption through fortified foods or supplements; Avocados and healthy vegetable oils with a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids.
“Through this research, we found that the Portfolio Diet Score is consistently associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, suggesting an opportunity for people to reduce their risk of heart disease by consuming more of these foods recommended in the diet “eat,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Andrea Glenn.
The researcher is a registered dietitian and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston and the University of Toronto.
A 14% lower risk
Previous research has shown that the portfolio diet can reduce LDL cholesterol as much as an early-generation statin. However, little was known about how sticking to the diet over a long period of time might affect the risk of cardiovascular disease.
To find out, the researchers examined the nutritional data of 166,270 women and 43,970 men who took part in long-term health studies and had no cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. They answered food questionnaires every four years.
The scientists used the portfolio diet score to rate participants’ consumption of plant proteins, nuts and seeds, viscous fiber, phytosterols and plant monounsaturated fatty acids.
After up to 30 years of follow-up, those with the highest portfolio diet score had a 14% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke than those with the lowest score.
Portfolio diet is still little known
“We are always looking for ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, and one effective way to do this is to lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol,” explains Dr. Kristina Petersen, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania.
Petersen, who was not involved in the research, knows well how diets can affect heart health. She co-authored an AHA scientific statement published in April that rated 10 popular diets for their heart health benefits.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was the only diet to achieve a perfect score, with the Mediterranean and Pescetarian diets rounding out the top three spots. The portfolio diet was excluded from the review “because it’s not particularly common,” she says.
The Portfolio Diet may not be as well-known as the DASH and Mediterranean diets, but there is significant overlap, Dr. Glenn. They all value the consumption of whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, vegetable proteins, nuts and vegetable oils.
But the portfolio diet is more “plant-based” and avoids more animal proteins than other dietary habits, explains the researcher.
Given the low public awareness of the Portfolio Diet, Dr. Glenn said the new findings will help raise their profile.
“It’s not an all-or-nothing approach. “You can adopt your own diet and make a few small changes and see cardiovascular benefits,” says the expert.
“You also don’t have to follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet to see benefits, but the more foods (from the Portfolio Diet) you eat, the greater your protection against heart disease, as we saw in the current study.” ( ad)