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Diet Cardio-Vascular Cholesterol Health Tips

The Portfolio Diet: Lowering Cholesterol With 4 Food Groups

1 year, 9 months ago

12200  0
Posted on Sep 08, 2021, 7 a.m.

Article courtesy of Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, best-selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.

You have heard of the Mediterranean, Keto, Vegan, Paleo, and MIND diet but have you heard of the Portfolio Diet?

It is actually a “diet without being a diet” as it was designed to work with any healthy food choices to lower cholesterol levels by keeping a focus on 4 food groups in most or all meals. Originally published by David Jenkins, MD, and researchers at the University of Toronto in 2002, it has gained new support. I frequently mention the Portfolio Diet on my podcast (Heart Doc VIP) and routinely give information on it to patients at the Kahn Center.

What is the Portfolio Diet?

In 2002, Dr. Jenkins noted that plant sterols (found in sesame and sunflower seeds and avocados), soy proteins (found in tofu, edamame, tempeh), nuts, and viscous fibers (found in oats, oat bran) were advised for cholesterol reduction but their combined effect had never been tested. They evaluated eating a diet with this “portfolio” of added food choices and showed that LDL cholesterol fell by 29% in a month versus baseline levels. The reduction was similar to another group given a low dose statin medication and most of the changes were seen as soon as 2 weeks.

New Data

Recently, the Portfolio diet, using these plant-based foods of plant soy proteins, nuts, viscous fiber, and plant sterols was assessed from dietary records in 123,330 women in the Women’s Health Initiative study from 1993 to 2017. Heart disease outcomes were assessed and the impact of adhering to the Portfolio Diet was measured in an average follow-up of 15 years. Adherence to the Portfolio Diet was associated with a lower risk of all heart events (11% lower), heart attacks (14% lower), and heart failure (17% lower). The authors concluded from this non-randomized study that “higher adherence to the Portfolio Diet was associated with a reduction in incident cardiovascular and coronary events, as well as heart failure. These findings warrant further investigation in other populations”.

How to Implement the Portfolio Diet?

What do you do? If you take an example of a 2,000-calorie diet that incorporates nuts, legumes, and various sources of dietary fiber, a breakdown of what’s included might look like this:

  • A few walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and raw almonds if not allergic  
  • Beans and legumes (peas, various beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils, tofu) added to salads and other meals
  • 2 ounces of foods with B-glucan and other viscous dietary fiber (oats, barley, psyllium, okra, eggplants, and fruits such as apples and pears, citrus, and berries)
  • A tbs of sesame seeds, a ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, or ½ of an avocado (all rich in plant sterols)


Overall, the Portfolio Diet is a great plan to lower your cholesterol without medication or as an add-on to necessary Rx drugs. It can be done with an all plant-based diet or as part of a MED diet plan.  Adding plant sterol, nuts, fiber, and soy proteins is a winning plan for all diets.

About the author: At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant-based vegan diet that he truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics, and nutrition-based recovery protocols. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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