The Portfolio diet: A dietary portfolio of foods to maximize cholesterol lowering

Re-introducing those plant foods that are high in dietary fibre, vegetable proteins and unsaturated fats next to plant sterols into the daily diet is advantageous to improve an abnormal blood lipid profile and to reduce or delay the need for pharmacological interventions17,18, 19.

The core of the Portfolio diet is to combine plant-based cholesterol-lowering foods with a low dietary cholesterol intake (<200 mg/day) and a low saturated fat intake (≤ 7% of total energy)19. Four dietary components have been included in the diet for their potential ability to lower serum cholesterol: plant sterols, soluble fibre, soy protein, and nuts, especially almonds.

Within the Portfolio diet approach (see Table 4), a recommended intake of:

  • 1 g of plants sterols /1000 kcal;
  • 22.5 g of soy proteins /1000 kcal;
  • 10 g of viscous dietary fibre /1000 kcal
  • 23 g of almonds /1000 kcal

along with a low dietary cholesterol and low saturated fat consumption, has been shown to reduce LDL-cholesterol up to 30% in 30 days in hyperlipidemic individuals17. Besides, further studies have demonstrated that in the long-term, hyperlipidemic individuals who showed a good compliance to the diet, maintained a 15% LDL-cholesterol reduction17.
The Portfolio diet may also have relevance in reduction of BP in the long-term20.

The Portfolio diet approach can be a valid vegetarian dietary alternative, as the focus of the diet is based on consuming plant-based foods. Besides, it may be easily combined with other dietary patterns, which also emphasize increased consumption of plant foods, such as the Mediterranean and the DASH diet, and with other lifestyle interventions.

Table 4 Dietary components of the Portfolio diet
Food group (recommended quantity/servings) Type of foods
Primary components of the Portfolio diet
Viscous fibre (10 g/1000 kcal)   Oat, oat bread, oat bran breads, barley, psyllium containing cereals, vegetables;
Soy protein (22.5 g/1000 kcal) Soy beverage, tofu, soy meat analogues, soy cheese
Plant sterols (1 g/1000 kcal) Foods with added plant sterols/stanols
Nuts: almonds (23 g/1000 kcal) Any (unsalted) nuts, especially almonds
Additional components
Other vegetable proteins (6–8 g/1000 kcal)   Beans, lentils, peas
Egg whites and egg substitute ( ≤3 whole egg equivalent per week) Egg white, egg substitute, egg replacements
Fruit and vegetables (2.5–5 servings/1000 kcal)   All fruits and vegetables
Poultry, fish, and red meats (≤3 serving per week) White poultry meat, any fish, lean or extra lean red meats
Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods (≤2 servings per week) Skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat or fat-free cheese, or cottage cheese
Oils and margarine high in monounsaturated fatty acids (11 g/1000 kcal) Olive, rapeseed (canola) oil; vegetable oil- based spreads

Source: Jenkins DJ et al., 2006 17.