The Portfolio Diet

The Portfolio Diet was created for its health benefits. While weight loss may be a consequence of this diet, it is not its main aim. The goal of the Portfolio Diet is to lower cholesterol, reduce the need for cholesterol medicine and reduce the risks of heart disease.

The Premise

The theory behind this diet is that if you eat foods low in cholesterol and high in cholesterol-lowering ability, you will enjoy better health and reduce the need to take statin drugs. The diet’s creator, David Jenkins, is a professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Toronto. To test his concept, Jenkins conducted a year-long study of 66 people, each with high blood cholesterol. About one third of the study participants who adhered closely to the diet saw a 20 percent decrease or more in bad cholesterol.

This is a significant research finding because it allows people with high cholesterol to reduce the amount of their cholesterol medication. This is especially good news if your body is experiencing complications from cholesterol medication. This diet allows you to accomplish the same goals as the medication, but through food.

The Diet

On the Portfolio Diet, you eat fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, soy foods, tofu and nuts, among other foods. It is a mostly vegetarian, near-vegan diet. Here are examples of the diet’s guidelines:

  • Avoid margarine and butter. Replace these foods with plant sterol-enriched margarine.
  • Instead of meat, eat soy-based foods such as soy burgers and soy cold cuts.
  • In place of regular milk, drink soy milk.
  • Most dairy products are discouraged, but yogurt is allowed.
  • Replace most grains with barley and oats.
  • From the vegetable group, okra and eggplant are encouraged foods.
  • Eat a handful of almonds daily because they are known to reduce cholesterol.
  • Some of the high-fiber foods that lower bad cholesterol are beans, psyllium and oat bran.

What to Get Excited Over

The scientific evidence is solid that this diet is effective at lowering bad cholesterol. If you are on cholesterol medicine and would like to stop taking it, going on this diet may help you achieve that goal. In addition, with the removal of meats and most dairy products, you could possibly lose weight as an added benefit.

Things to Consider

This is a fairly strict diet. For some people it will involve a complete change in eating habits. Avoiding meat and dairy products may be difficult for some people. If you are going to use this diet as a way to stop or reduce cholesterol medication, you will have to adhere closely to the diet’s guidelines. Your doctor will have to monitor your cholesterol levels regularly to gauge the need and proper dose for medication.

The Verdict

The Portfolio Diet is sound and makes sense if you are struggling with high cholesterol. It is a natural and healthy way to lower doses of medication or stop taking cholesterol-lowering drugs altogether. Given its restrictive nature, it may be difficult for some people to adopt this diet in its entirety. If only one person in your family is following this diet, it may involve shopping for additional ingredients and cooking separate meals.


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