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Whole Grain Benefits

What Is the Portfolio Diet, and Does It Lower Cholesterol?



If you’ve been encouraged to improve your cholesterol levels, you may have heard of the Portfolio Diet.

This is a eating pattern that is said to lower cholesterol levels. Unlike most other diets, it doesn’t have strict rules or restrictions on what foods you should eat or avoid.

Instead, it focuses on a few key ingredients that have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels.

This article takes a closer look at the Portfolio Diet, including what it is, how it works, and whether it is effective.

The Portfolio Diet was developed by Dr. David JA Jenkins, a British doctor who is also credited with developing the concept of the glycemic index (GI).

The plan is designed to lower cholesterol and promote heart health by adding certain cholesterol lowering foods to your diet.

In particular, the diet focuses on four main ingredients:

  • Soy protein
  • Plant sterols
  • nuts
  • soluble fiber

According to the plan’s proponents, consuming more of these foods can lower your cholesterol levels significantly to help protect against heart disease.


The Portfolio Diet is a diet plan designed to lower your cholesterol levels by adding more soy protein, plant sterols, nuts, and soluble fiber to your diet.

The concept of the portfolio diet is simple. Simply replace certain foods in your diet with other ingredients that have been shown to lower cholesterol.

For example, replace meat and dairy products with soy protein like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy-based delicacies or burgers.

Instead of butter, the Portfolio Diet recommends using margarine fortified with plant sterols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring plant compounds that have been shown to reduce the absorption of cholesterol by the body (1).

Your diet should also include at least one serving of tree nuts a day, such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.

In addition, the portfolio diet promotes foods high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a thick, gel-like substance in your digestive tract. It can improve digestion, lower cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar spikes (2).

Fruits, vegetables, oats, legumes, and flax seeds are some examples of foods that are high in soluble fiber.

Here is how much of each component you should be eating per day:

  • Soy protein: 35 grams
  • Plant sterols: 2 grams
  • Nuts: 1 handful or about 23 almonds
  • Soluble fiber: 18 grams

If you’re struggling to get enough soluble fiber or plant sterols through your diet, you can also consider a psyllium or plant sterol supplement.


The Portfolio Diet encourages you to swap out certain foods in your diet for cholesterol-lowering alternatives.

The Portfolio Diet promotes many foods that can help lower cholesterol levels.

Food to eat

With this diet, try to consume multiple servings of foods each day that are high in soluble fiber, plant sterols, and soy protein, including nutrient-dense options like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Here are some examples of foods you should eat while on the portfolio diet:

  • Fruit: Avocados, pears, apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, peaches
  • Vegetables: Okra, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamias, cashews, pistachios
  • Seed: Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
  • Full grain: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley
  • Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, lima beans
  • Soy protein: Tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy cold cuts, soy veggie burgers
  • Healthy fats: Margarine and vegetable oils enriched with vegetable sterols

In addition to the foods listed above, your diet encourages the use of certain nutritional supplements, including psyllium fiber and plant sterols.

Food to avoid

The Portfolio Diet does not remove foods from your diet or specify which ingredients should be restricted. Still, avoiding certain foods can maximize the potential heart health benefits.

Here are some foods to limit or avoid on the portfolio diet:

  • Processed foods: French fries, pretzels, fried foods, ready meals, french fries, processed meat meat
  • Refined Carbohydrates: white pasta, white rice, white bread, tortillas
  • Sweets: Cookies, cakes, candies, baked goods
  • Sugar: Table sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar
  • Beverages: Lemonade, sweet tea, sports drinks, energy drinks


The Portfolio Diet promotes nutritious whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. While there are no guidelines as to which foods to avoid, it can be beneficial to limit your intake of added sugars and highly processed foods.

All four ingredients recommended in the portfolio diet have been shown to reduce cholesterol:

  • Plant sterols. Research suggests that consuming just 1.5–3 grams of plant sterols per day could lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 12% (1).
  • Soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fiber can lower total and LDL cholesterol (bad) cholesterol by 5-10%. This may be due to its ability to decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream (3).
  • Soy. Not only has soy protein been shown to lower cholesterol, but studies show that other compounds found in soy can benefit other aspects of heart health (4).
  • Nuts. According to a large review of 61 studies, consuming more tree nuts could help lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (5).

Several studies have found that the portfolio diet can lower cholesterol levels.

For example, one review rated the effectiveness of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) portfolio diet and Step II diet – a program that limits your intake of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol from food (6).

The combination of the two diets lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammation, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure – all of which are risk factors for heart disease – more than the NCEP Step II diet alone (6).

In another study, people with high cholesterol who followed the Portfolio Diet for 6 months experienced significant reductions in both total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol (7)) compared to a control group.

Additionally, a 2005 study found that the Portfolio Diet was just as effective as statins – cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs – in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Both methods lowered LDL cholesterol to below 3.4 mmol / L, which is considered healthy (8).


Several studies have found that the portfolio diet can significantly lower cholesterol and improve several other risk factors for heart disease.

The Portfolio Diet can be difficult to follow in some cases, especially if you are used to eating a lot of processed foods and meats.

Since there are no strict rules or restrictions on what foods you can or cannot eat, it may not be a suitable option if you prefer a more structured eating plan with clear directions.

Since the diet is only intended to lower your cholesterol, consider trying a different plan if you are also looking to lose weight or improve other aspects of your health.

It is also not suitable for people with an allergy to soy or nuts, as both are important parts of the diet.

Additionally, the diet focuses on what foods you should be eating and doesn’t consider other factors that affect your cholesterol levels, such as getting the right amount of sleep, getting regular exercise, and managing your stress levels (9, 10, 11).

Therefore, combining the portfolio diet with other healthy habits can be a better way to maximize your results.


This diet isn’t ideal if you’re looking for clear directions, have certain food allergies, or want to improve other aspects of your health. It only focuses on foods to eat and doesn’t take into account any other factors that affect cholesterol levels.

Here is a sample 3-day menu for the Portfolio Diet:

day one

  • Breakfast: Muesli with soy milk and blueberries
  • Having lunch: Fry with tofu and vegetables
  • Dinner: Soy veggie burger with broccoli and roasted potato wedges
  • Snacks: Almonds, fruit and soy yogurt

Day two

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with walnuts, cinnamon and sliced ​​bananas
  • Having lunch: Sesame tempeh with brown rice and Brussels sprouts
  • Dinner: Whole grain sandwich with soy deli slices and vegetables
  • Snacks: Edamame hummus with carrots

Day three

  • Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, fruit, soy milk and soy protein powder
  • Having lunch: stuffed peppers with black beans, vegetables and soy sprinkles
  • Dinner: Buddha bowl with baked tofu, avocados, kale and sweet potatoes
  • Snacks: Trail mix with nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruits


The sample menu above offers some ideas for meals, drinks, and snacks to enjoy while on the portfolio diet.

The Portfolio Diet is a plan designed to lower your cholesterol levels by adding certain foods to your diet.

Studies show that it can help lower cholesterol and improve other risk factors for heart disease.

However, it may not be suitable for those who have dietary restrictions, want to lose weight, or prefer a more structured eating plan.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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