Plant-based diets are great for cardiovascular health, but a vegetarian diet low in saturated fats may not be the best thing for keeping cholesterol in check.
Instead, it may be better to selectively eat a few foods that decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is also known as the “bad” cholesterol.
This was the main takeaway of an influential study, published in 2011, that presented a “portfolio” of four foods that had each been proven to reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk. These foods are:
- plant protein obtained either from soy-based foods such as tofu, soy milk, or other soy-based meat substitutes, or from pulses such as beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils
- soluble fiber, such as “oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, or berries”
- margarine enhanced with plant sterols, or “cholesterol-like” compounds that can be found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals
Ever since 2011, several governmental organizations have recognized the benefits of this so-called Portfolio diet.
Now, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes have commissioned a meta-analysis of all the evidence available to assess and summarize the benefits of the Portfolio diet for preventing cardiovascular disease.
The first author of the new paper is Laura Chiavaroli, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto in Canada, and the findings were published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.