Is the Portfolio Diet Helpful?

For some people, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be a diet free-for-all. All the rules are gone, and the bets are off. One of our team members spoke to her mother the other day, and the woman said that she ate a pound of chocolate in an evening. When our shocked team member asked how she did it, her mother replied, “Happily.”

But, for people with blood sugar concerns or medical problems, paying attention to what you eat doesn’t stop when the holidays roll around. We like to look at popular diets to determine their safety, ease and efficacy. Some diets fail on all fronts — they’re unsafe, hard to follow and don’t work. The diets that work are closer to lifestyles than diets — like the Mediterranean diet or DASH. They are so comprehensive you don’t have to follow a ton of weird rules.

The portfolio diet was created by scientists at Harvard to aid heart health. It’s mostly whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables and plant-based proteins all meant to help lower cholesterol. Some claim it’s a health silver bullet. However, some experts disagree. The diet doesn’t officially eliminate any foods, but you are supposed to limit added sugar, saturated fat and animal products.

Laura Silver, registered dietitian and founder of Silver Street Nutrition, said, “This is not all that different from everything else. It’s just a new name for a new diet that’s kind of the same. It doesn’t seem like there’s really anything particularly unique here.”

If you look at it side by side with the Mediterranean diet, they’re almost identical, except this one limits animal products and promotes whole grains. The Mediterranean diet shies away from red meat and dairy and leans more into fish and nuts. While both might be heart-healthy options, the Mediterranean diet might be better for people with blood sugar concerns.

Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. Complex carbs contain many beneficial nutrients. However, people with blood sugar concerns need to watch their portion sizes and intake of whole grains. The portfolio diet includes a lot of high-carb foods that aren’t suitable in large amounts for people with blood sugar concerns.  

The best heart-healthy diet is the one that works for you. The portfolio diet is, in some ways, a vegan form of the Mediterranean diet. If that appeals to you, it could be excellent. You just need to be mindful of your carbs. It has been linked to lower levels of heart attacks and strokes. But so have DASH and the Mediterranean diet. This would be a perfect fit if you are vegan but interested in the Mediterranean diet!

Banner image: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels

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