From the University of Toronto comes promising news for people with high cholesterol. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines recommend a diet and lifestyle approach as the first course of action for individuals with elevated cholesterol levels. But the scientific literature still begs the question, what is a truly effective dietary approach to lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease? Researchers at the University of Toronto set out to study just that and the findings were groundbreaking.
The findings resulted in the Portfolio Eating Plan, a dietary approach to managing cholesterol levels. The test diet is a National Cholesterol Education Program Step 2 diet (saturated fat less than 7 percent of calories; less than 200 mg cholesterol) and recommends the following each day as part of a 2,000 calorie diet:
- 30 grams (about one ounce) of almonds: about 23 almonds, or a handful
- 20 grams (less than one ounce) of viscous fiber from foods such as oats, barley, and certain fruits and vegetables
- 80 grams of soy protein from foods such as tofu, soy meat alternatives, and soy milk
- 2 grams (.064 ounces) of plant sterols from foods such as Benecol® or Take Control®
Patients are instructed to meet the daily fruit and vegetable recommendation of five to nine servings. Further, patients are instructed to not eat any dairy, meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. If they eat an egg product, it should be limited to egg substitute or egg whites. If they eat meat or fish, it should be limited to lean cuts, in order to keep the approach low in saturated fat.