Friday, June 6, 2008

The Low-Fat Portfolio Diet

The Low-Fat Portfolio Diet If you're struggling with high cholesterol – whether it's genetically inherited or a result of your lifestyle – and would like to avoid taking statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), you could try the low-fat portfolio eating plan. This is a long-term dietary solution that involves eating a variety of foods with cholesterol-lowering capabilities grouped in a so-called portfolio, developed by scientists at the University of Toronto. This eating plan was conceived specifically to help lower cholesterol by at least 30% in the course of a year.

The "portfolio eating plan" developed by researchers and documented in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involves following a daily routine which consists in eating a series of foods in set quantities. Thus, the regime of a person following this diet would have to include the following foods on a daily basis:

- 30 g of almonds
- 20 g of soluble fiber (found in foods such as porridge, prunes, apples, pears, broccoli or sweet potatoes)
- two servings of foods containing "plant sterols" (such as Benecol and Flora ProActive margarines and yogurts)
- 25 g of soy protein (from foods such as tofu and soy milk)

An optional addition to this diet are lean meats and fish, but not on a daily basis. The study found that after a year of keeping to this diet plan, there would be a noticeable drop in the patients' cholesterol levels, which would go down at least 20% – usually more. Even people who didn't follow the regime to the letter managed to lower their cholesterol by around 15%.

The trick with this plan is to turn it into a permanent lifestyle routine and not gorge on foods rich in saturated fats while also eating the "healthy stuff" in parallel. Fatty cuts of meat, meat pies, burgers and full-fat dairy products cakes, biscuits and sweets such as cheesecakes have to be cut out of our diets, if we plan to embark on a cholesterol-lowering crusade.

A typical day's diet could look like this:

Breakfast: a grapefruit, followed by porridge made with soy milk
Snack: a small bag of dried fruit
Lunch: baked potato with a bit of Benecol spread, baked beans and salad, and a pear for desert
Mid-afternoon snack: a handful of almonds and a yogurt drink
Dinner: chicken and tofu stir-fry and a baked apple with soy milk custard.

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