The Portfolio Eating Plan with Almonds Delivers a Solid Return

Eating almonds more healthful than cutting down on saturated-fats.

Financial portfolios are not the only portfolios that yield a return on investment, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the Portfolio Eating Plan (PEP).

The dietary approach is referred to as the "portfolio" eating plan because it includes a variety of heart-healthy foods, such as almonds. The study is the fifth installment in a series of studies confirming the ability of the PEP to help people maintain healthy levels of cholesterol.

Distinct from previous PEP studies, it found that this diet provides health benefits irrelevant of the amount of nutrition counseling, which indicates that individuals were able to successfully follow and see positive results from the Portfolio Eating Plan without intensive dietary counseling.

The Portfolio Eating Plan was developed by Dr. David Jenkins and Dr. Cyril Kendall of the University of Toronto. Their current study builds on more than a decade of previous research of the Portfolio Eating Plan to show that incorporating nuts, including almonds, in the diet along with other known cholesterol-lowering foods, may help to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol more effectively than a diet low in saturated fat alone.

The study tested the effect of one of three diets in 345 men and women with high cholesterol levels over a 6-month period. The participants were randomly assigned to either a low-saturated fat therapeutic diet, which acted as the control, a routine portfolio diet or an intensive portfolio diet. The portfolio diet emphasized plant sterols, soy protein, viscous fibers and nuts, including almonds.

Both the low-saturated fat therapeutic control diet and the routine portfolio diet involved 2 dietary counseling visits over the 6 month period and the intensive portfolio diet involved 7 counseling visits over the 6 month period. The study found that the participants following the portfolio diets experienced a greater reduction in "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels compared to those following the low-saturated fat diet.

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