What is Portfolio Diet?
If a doctor or nutritionist has mentioned that your cholesterol levels are elevated and you’re seeking treatment beyond medications, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss the Portfolio Diet, a non-restrictive dietary approach that aims to incorporate specific foods with targeted properties while replacing others known to elevate cholesterol. We’ll also explore how to include these specific foods and nutrients and provide a sample weekly plan. Let’s dive in.
What is Cholesterol?
First and foremost, let’s delve into what cholesterol is:
Cholesterol, often dubbed the “bad guy” in the story, is a term we’ve all heard, but do we truly understand what it is and why it’s important for our bodies? In short, cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in every cell. While it has been labeled as the villain in many health conversations, not all cholesterol is harmful. In fact, our bodies need a certain amount to function optimally.
Types of Cholesterol: Beyond Good and Bad
When discussing cholesterol, it’s crucial to understand that not all types are equal. Three main characters come into play: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
- LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol: Known as the “bad cholesterol,” LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to cells. However, when in excess, it can accumulate on artery walls, forming plaques that may restrict blood flow.
- HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol: This is the “good cholesterol.” HDL works in the opposite direction, carrying excess cholesterol from cells and arteries back to the liver for disposal. Adequate levels of HDL are beneficial for cardiovascular health.
- Total Cholesterol: The sum of LDL, HDL, and other forms of cholesterol. Maintaining a total cholesterol level within a healthy range is essential for balance in our bodily functions.
Basic Functioning: The Cholesterol Dance in Your Body
Picture cholesterol as dancers on a stage. LDL transports cholesterol to cells, while HDL returns it to the dressing room (the liver). As in any ballet, balance is key; an excess of LDL can trigger issues, while a well-coordinated team of LDL and HDL contributes to optimal cardiovascular health.
In summary, understanding cholesterol goes beyond simple labels of “good” and “bad.” It’s a finely choreographed dance in our bodies that requires balance and attention. In the upcoming articles, we’ll explore how we can nurture this internal ballet and keep our cholesterol levels in tune with a healthy life. Join us on this journey of discovery!
The Portfolio Diet
David J.A. Jenkins, a nutrition expert from the University of Toronto, created the Portfolio Diet. He asserts, “I consider the term ‘diet’ a broad concept. We are not trying to seek the impact of the Atkins diet type. We would prefer a concept that can evolve as we learn more. We would like to see people do this on their own.”
In essence, the Portfolio Diet is a strategy that aims not to be restrictive but selective, aiming to replace certain foods and increase the consumption of others, particularly foods such as:
- Soy Protein
- Plant Sterols
- Soluble Fiber
But how do these ingredients work to lower cholesterol? Let’s delve into their mechanisms:
- Effect on Cholesterol: Soy is rich in proteins, and some studies suggest that soy protein consumption can have a positive effect on reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).
- Mechanism: It is believed that phytosterols and bioactive peptides present in soy can influence cholesterol metabolism.
- Foods where you can find them: Tofu, Tempeh, Edamame (green soybeans), Soy milk, Soy-based vegetarian burgers.
- Effect on Cholesterol: Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are compounds found in plants with a structure similar to cholesterol. Consuming plant sterols has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
- Mechanism: Plant sterols compete with cholesterol absorption in the intestine, resulting in lower absorption of LDL cholesterol.
- Foods where you can find them: Margarines fortified with plant sterols, Vegetable oils (such as canola oil), Some fruits and vegetables in smaller quantities.
- Effect on Cholesterol: Several studies suggest that regular and moderate consumption of nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, can contribute to the reduction of total cholesterol and LDL.
- Mechanism: Nuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as fiber, antioxidants, and phytosterols, which can influence lipid profiles.
- Examples: Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Hazelnuts.
- Effect on Cholesterol: Soluble fiber, found in foods like oats, barley, and legumes, has shown a positive impact on reducing LDL cholesterol.
- Mechanism: Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing its absorption and carrying it out of the body.
- You can find it in these foods: Oats (oat flour, oat flakes), barley, legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas), fruits (apples, pears, oranges, strawberries), and vegetables (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes).
It’s important to note that while these ingredients can be beneficial for cardiovascular health, results may vary based on the quantity consumed and an individual’s overall diet. Additionally, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a nutritionist or doctor, before making significant changes to the diet, especially in cases of pre-existing health conditions.
Foods to Avoid on a Portfolio Diet
In the list of foods to avoid, the focus is primarily on types of foods that contribute high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, high exogenous cholesterol, and are high in simple carbohydrates such as:
- Processed foods (cookies, pretzels, fried foods, deli meats, processed meats)
- Refined carbohydrates (white pasta, white rice, white bread)
- Sweets: cookies, cakes, candies, baked goods, sodas
- Sugar: table sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar
- Beverages: soda, sweet tea, sports drinks, energy drinks
7 Day Portfolio Diet Plan
|Breakfast||Oatmeal bowl with walnuts, sliced bananas, and soy milk.||Spinach, fruit, soy milk, and soy protein powder smoothie bowl.||Whole grain toast with avocado, tomato, and almonds.||Smoothie bowl with fruits, soy milk, and granola.||Whole grain bread with avocado and almonds.||Soy toast with tomato and basil.||Oatmeal with fresh fruits, almonds, and soy milk.|
|Lunch||Chickpea salad with grilled tofu and avocado dressing.||Whole grain wraps filled with tempeh, vegetables, and avocado.||Stuffed peppers with black beans, vegetables, and crumbled soy.||Lentil salad with avocado, walnuts, and olive oil dressing.||Whole grain tacos with soy filling, avocado, and tomato sauce.||Buddha bowl with chickpeas, spinach, quinoa, and avocado.||Miso soup with tofu and vegetables, accompanied by brown rice.|
|Snack||Carrot sticks with edamame hummus, almonds, and fruits.||Mixed nuts with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and fruits.||Soy yogurt with fresh fruits and a mix of nuts.||Celery sticks with almond butter.||Fresh fruits with soy yogurt.||Protein shake with soy milk and fruits.||Popcorn and fresh fruits|
|Dinner||Lentil soup with spinach and avocado slices.||Vegetable stir-fry with tofu strips and brown rice.||Quinoa Buddha bowl with baked tofu, avocado, and kale.||Zucchini noodles with vegetarian meatballs and tomato sauce.||Quinoa salad with avocado, nuts, and lemon dressing.||Whole grain pizza with tofu, vegetables, and vegan cheese.||Couscous salad with chickpeas, roasted vegetables, and tahini dressing.|