It seems as if there's a new fad diet on the market every
week. The latest one to make the headlines is the "Portfolio"
diet, which is high in plant sterols, viscous fiber, almonds,
beans and soy protein, and is designed to cut the amount of
cholesterol in the blood. A recent study has shown that the
Portfolio diet works as well as some cholesterol-lowering
drugs, and without causing unwanted side-effects.
study, published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, involved 46 people with high cholesterol,
and compared the effectiveness three diets: 16 people used
the National Cholesterol Education Program's Step 2 diet,
a low-saturated fat diet that emphasizes whole-wheat cereals
and low-fat dairy foods; 14 took the Step 2 diet, along with
a daily, 20-milligram dose of the cholesterol drug lovastatin;
and the remaining 16 followed the Portfolio diet. The patients
remained on their respective diets for one month; fasting
blood samples, blood pressure and body weight were measured
at the start of the study and at two- and four-week intervals.
Patients in all three groups lost similar amounts of weight,
and there were no significant differences in blood pressure.
When it came time to measure blood cholesterol, however, patients
in the lovastatin and Portfolio groups had significant reductions
in LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels. LDL levels dropped 31
percent in the lovastatin patients and 29 percent in the Portfolio
patients. The control group, on the other hand, reported only
an 8-percent reduction in LDL levels.
Before you write off the Portfolio diet as too strict for
your taste, bear in mind that a wide variety of foods fit
into the diet's plan. In addition to the foods mentioned above,
okra; legumes; tofu; soluble fiber; and meatless "chicken"
and "hamburger" patties were acceptable options for subjects
in the Portfolio group. Other foods that can be eaten as part
of the Portfolio plan include oat bran; most fruits; tomatoes;
vegetarian chili and/or curry; eggplant; cauliflower; onions;
and red peppers.
Jenkins D, Kendall C, Marchie A, et al. Effects
of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods vs. lovastatin
on serum lipids and C-reactive protein. Journal of the
American Medical Association, July 23, 2003: Volume 290,
Additional information on nutrition can be found at www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/nutrition.