Older adults can help prevent heart disease with lifestyle choices like getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and limiting alcohol consumption but a plant-based diet may also lower high cholesterol among people who are overweight but have not developed heart disease or diabetes. The Portfolio Diet, which is comprised of cholesterol-lowering nuts, plant-based proteins, soluble fibre and plant sterols, has been found to lower the risk for coronary heart disease by reducing “bad cholesterol”, inflammation and blood pressure.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal blog, a review of The Portfolio Diet found that food plan showed promising results in helping people lose weight and lower their cholesterol levels. The diet is made up of four core foods including nuts, protein from soy or beans, soluble fibre from oats, eggplant, apples or barley and 2 grams of plant sterols. By replacing unhealthy fats (saturated and trans) with healthy phytosterols found in vegetable oil, studies have demonstrated that “bad cholesterol” can be lowered by up to 14 percent. Foods that are fortified with plant sterols include butter substitutes, some orange juices and certain rice and soy milks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 102 million American adults have high cholesterol and more than 35 million have levels that put them at an increased risk for heart disease. A simple blood test by your doctor can determine if you have high cholesterol which can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. Adults over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.
The Portfolio Diet is a version of a vegan diet and excludes all meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs. It was originally developed by David J.A. Jenkins at the University of Toronto, focusing on a diverse combination, hence the term “portfolio”, of foods that will lower cholesterol. Learn more about foods included in The Portfolio Diet by following this link to the London Health Sciences Centre’s Lipid Genetics Clinic website.