Approximately 80 million adults in the United States attempt to shed their excess pounds and decrease their risks of chronic disease by going on a diet, according to statistics from Health.com. Few of these dieters, however, retain the benefits they gain over the long term. Dr. Jenkins' Portfolio diet is a vegan diet that aims to promote long-term weight control and optimal health -- with a focus on cholesterol reduction.
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The Portfolio diet was developed in 2002 by University of Toronto nutrition scientist and physician David J.A. Jenkins, M.D. Jenkins developed the diet after conducting scientific research showing that combining various cholesterol-lowering foods together -- as in a portfolio of healthy foods -- helped research subjects significantly lower cholesterol levels.
The theory behind the Portfolio diet is that -- rather than zeroing in on a single healthy food -- health-conscious people should add several healthy foods to their diet to obtain combined health benefits. Those looking to reduce their risk of chronic disease should opt for a vegan diet, Jenkins reports. He notes that a vegan diet tends to have lower levels of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol -- two nutrients that increase heart disease risk. Vegan foods included as part of the portfolio include nuts, soy-based products, oats and plant sterol-enriched vegetable oil-based margarines.
Research conducted by Jenkins and his team of scientists at the University of Toronto and published in the December 2002 issue of "Metabolism" tested the effects of the Portfolio diet on a group of subjects with elevated cholesterol levels. The researchers found that one-month of the vegetarian -- but not vegan -- Portfolio diet reduced "bad" low density lipoprotein levels by approximately 30 percent. This improvement in cholesterol was comparable to that of a statin drug such as Lipitor, the study authors note.
Elevated cholesterol levels are a serious medical condition that should be treated by a doctor. Although the Portfolio diet has scientific evidence supporting its use in cholesterol reduction, no study has investigated the effect of a vegan Portfolio diet on healthy cholesterol levels. As with any new diet, the Portfolio diet should only be attempted after a consultation with your physician.