The portfolio diet isn't designed as a weight loss diet. Its focus is on lowering cholesterol. But there's no reason why you can't incorporate the foods in the portfolio diet into a weight loss plan.
What is the Portfolio Diet?
Just follow these guidelines:
- Substitute soy foods for meat. Drink soy milk instead of milk and substitute soy protein foods for other meats.
- Eat as much ‘sticky’ fiber as possible. People in the study took three daily servings of natural psyllium supplements. Oats and barley replace other grains and preferred vegetables include eggplant and okra.
- Include plant sterol-enriched margarines, such as benecol and Take Control. Plant sterols are also available in capsule form as dietary supplements.
- A handful of nuts every day. In the study, almonds were eaten and the Almond Board of California offers portfolio diet recipes on its website, but any tree nut will reduce cholesterol.
Here are some examples of a typical day:
Breakfast – Include soy milk in your portfolio diet, oat bran cereal with chopped fruit and almonds,
oatmeal bread with sterol-enriched margarine, and some jam.
- Lunch – Soy lunchmeats, oat bran bread, bean soup, fruit.
- Dinner – Stir fry with vegetables, tofu, fruit and almonds.
- Snacks – Include nuts, yogurt, and soy milk thickened with a psyllium supplement such as Metamucil.
Is the portfolio diet for you?
Many people are concerned about heart disease and stroke, especially if they are struggling with weight control and high blood cholesterol levels. However, many people are not comfortable going on prescription medications. Since this is an eating plan that does not eliminate food groups or follow some type of fad, there is no risk to going on this ‘diet’. In fact, it’s not really a ‘diet’ at all, but a way of eating. And no one has to do anything but substitute some of the recommended foods for foods they normally eat today.
Soy milk. There are multiple brands and different fat levels. You can buy whole fat, low fat and non fat. You can buy ‘regular’ (no flavoring), or any number of flavors. I have personally found one brand that I like over others and you may have to experiment to find one you like, as well.
Edemame. These are frozen whole soybeans that are harvested when still green. They can be found in most health food stores, such as Trader Joes or Whole Foods Market, in the frozen food section, usually next to the lima beans. These can be found shelled or in the shell. You can add them to soups or stews or eat them by themselves. I like to eat them as my protein for breakfast.
Tofu. Also known as ‘bean curd’, tofu is a soft, cheese-like food made my curdling soymilk. The curds are then pressed into a solid block. There are different levels of firmness; silken, soft and firm. Silken is a creamy, custard-like product that works well with pureed or blended dishes. Soft tofu is best used in recipes that call for blended tofu, or in soups. The firm tofu is more dense and solid and holds up well in stir fry dishes, even on the grill. The firm tofu is higher in protein, fat and calcium than the other forms, but since this is a plant fat, this should not be an issue. For recipe ideas, see this link from the Indiana Soybean Board.
Textured Vegetable (or Soy) Protein Products. This is the soyfood product that many soy burgers and other ‘meat substitute’ products contain. The best way to determine if these foods are for you are to experiment with a few options.
Miso. Miso is a rich, salty paste condiment that characterizes the essence of Japanese cooking. Traditionally, miso is made by combining with a grain, salt, and a mold culture and then aged in cedar vats for one to three years. Readers may recognize the name because this is a popular soup.
Soy nuts. Soy nuts are whole soybeans that have been soaked then baked. They can be found in snack isles and manufacturers now include soynuts in any number of coatings, including chocolate.
Tempeh. This is a traditional Indonesian food that is most commonly found in Asian stores. It is a chunky, tender soybean cake. It can be marinated and grilled or added to soups, casseroles, or even chili.
It can be very easy for some people to add nuts to their diet. In fact, it may be harder to not add too MANY nuts! It may also be ‘doable’ to add more sticky fiber to your diet, also, with a little planning. However, it may be a greater challenge to find soy foods that can be enjoyably substituted for meats you are used to eating. However, if your health depends on it, and you refuse medications, this may be a great thing to try, especially since there are no risks involved with adding these foods to your diet. Just remember that these are foods to be substituted, not added, to the diet. Since calories do also still count, adding extras to your current diet could result in weight gain, leading to new concerns.