Researchers have hailed a new diet as a “miracle solution” for heart health, but is it really as good as it seems?
The portfolio diet, created by scientists at Harvard University, is made up of cholesterol-lowering foods, such as whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables, and plant-based proteins.
A study of more than 210,000 health professionals found that over the course of 30 years, participants had a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
The portfolio diet has been endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA), and the organization urges, “We need to spread the word.”
Like diversifying a stock portfolio with different promising investments, the “portfolio diet” involves incorporating several healthy dietary patterns together.
However, dietitians said the portfolio diet is indistinguishable from more endorsed plans such as the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets, and that promoting another diet full of buzzwords confuses consumers.
The portfolio diet prioritizes plant-based proteins, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.
Dietitians told DailyMail.com that the wallet diet is no different from basic healthy eating and creates confusion among consumers.
Laura Silver, registered dietitian and founder of Silver Street Nutrition in New York City, told DailyMail.com: ‘This is not that different from everything else. “It’s just a new name for a new diet that’s pretty much the same.”
“There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly unique here.”
The portfolio diet It prioritizes whole grains and healthy fats, just like the Mediterranean diet, but is more plant-based and discourages animal proteins more than other plans.
It is not designed for weight loss. Rather, its primary focus is heart health, similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which aims to reduce high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Harvard researchers found that people who followed the diet for 30 years had a 14 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared to people who followed a standard diet.
The authors published their findings in the journal AHA. Circulationindicating that the leading heart health organization endorses the diet plan as a highly effective way to prevent cardiovascular disorders.
Dr. Kristina Petersen, a nutrition expert at Penn State University and co-author of last spring’s AHA statement ranking 10 popular diets for their heart health benefits, said: ‘It’s not an all or nothing approach. You can take your own diet and make some small changes and see cardiovascular benefits.’
‘We have to spread the word.’
The portfolio diet emphasizes many of the same foods as other popular eating plans like DASH and the Mediterranean diet.
The DASH diet, for example, is specifically aimed at reducing the risk of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
The plan recommends vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fatty fish, lean meat, beans and lentils, nuts, and vegetable oils, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The goal is to reduce the amount of foods high in cholesterol and sodium, which have been shown to raise blood pressure and increase the chances of heart disease and stroke.
Similarly, the Mediterranean diet also involves largely avoiding dairy, red meat and alcohol, while consuming oily fish, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Dr. Carolyn Williams, registered dietitian and co-host of the Happy Eating podcast, told DailyMail.com that these are all foods in a healthy staple diet, and adding another diet that is so similar to a regular balanced eating plan can be confusing for people. the consumers. .
“I feel like they’re just reworking a healthy eating plan,” she said. “It’s nothing different because we’ve known all these things.”
‘I think it adds confusion, which is never good. We already have a lot of confusion in the world of nutrition and diets.’
One of the main principles of the portfolio diet is to eat more plant-based proteins instead of red meat, chicken or fish, the latter two being staples in diets such as the Mediterranean and DASH.
“There is a link between being vegan or vegetarian and better health and better heart health, but we don’t really know whether that benefit comes from eating less meat or more plants, or some combination of the two,” Ms Silver said. .
‘It is not realistic for everyone to become vegan or vegetarian, nor do I think everyone needs to do so to benefit their health. I think a better message is “eat more plants” than “eat less animals.”
‘Eat a balanced variety of foods consistently throughout the day. Don’t make it too complicated.