Healthy Diet or a Portfolio Diet


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Believe it or not, the so-called ‘healthy diet’ is passe. Now, it’s time for portfolio diet. If a Toronto based nutritional sciences scientist, Cyril WC Kendall are to be believed, portfolio diet has the potential to reduce cardio-vascular disease by at least 25% to 35% if followed as per directions.

"An ounce of almonds a day, 20 grams of fibres, as much vegetable proteins as possible and two grams of plant steroids, is called as a portfolio diet, " Kendall said in an exclusive interview to Vipin Agnihotri at

He explained that vegetable proteins are found in lentils, beans, oats and barley while plant steroid can be found in all plant vegetable oils, which can be consumed by the people. These steroids block the absorption of cholesterol in the body, lessening heart problems, he added.

Thus the concept behind the portfolio diet, said Kendall, is to combine in one diet those plant based functional foods that have been demonstrated to have lower cholesterol so that their combined effect may rival conventional lipid lowering drug. The food components selected for the portfolio diet are those which the United States Food and Drug Association have already approved for a cardio vascular health claim, he added.

He added that in the series of metabolically controlled studies, we assessed the efficacy of combining cholesterol-lowering fooods like (almonds and proteins) and food components (plant steroids, viscous fibres) in the same diet. The combination diet approach was found to be efficacious, with mean reductions in the cholesterol of up to 35% being achieved. However, the question remained as to whether this combined dietary approach had any application in the real world, he added.

"Therefore, to assess the effectiveness of this combination of cholesterol lowering foods, we studied a group of hyperlipidemic individuals over a period of one year. These individuals were instructed to follow a self-selected dietary portfolio, " said Kendall. In this real world situation, the reductions achieved by the subjects were found to relate with the compliance of the diet. However, in approximately one-third of the subjects who closely followed the diet, significant and clinically meaningful reductions in cholesterol of greater than 20% were achieved, he stated.

Kendall added that each per cent reduction in cholesterol reduces the risk of heart diseases by one per cent. Thus the portfolio diet is an acceptable and effective approach for decreasing cholesterol levels and risk for coronary heart diseases among individuals, he stated.

The Writer is a journalist based at India and can be contacted at


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