The Portfolio Diet is a plant-based dietary pattern that was first developed in the early 2000s at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital.

The Portfolio Diet is a “portfolio” of four cholesterol-lowering foods, or pillars (including plant protein, nuts, viscous fibre, and plant sterols). Foods within each of these four food pillars have approved health claims in Canada, the USA, and Europe (with Health Canada, the Food & Drug Administration, and European Food Safety Authority) for cholesterol-lowering or heart disease risk reduction. The original Portfolio Diet was designed on top of a low-saturated fat diet, which includes ≤7% total energy from saturated fat and ≤200 mg dietary cholesterol. The four cholesterol-lowering pillars are then added to this diet advice.

Based on a 2000 calorie/day diet, the following foods are included:

  • 45 g of nuts (from tree nuts or peanuts)
  • 50 g of plant protein (from soy products, beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils)
  • 20 g of viscous fibre (from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, and okra)
  • 2 g of plant sterols (from supplements or plant sterol-enriched products)

The Portfolio Diet has since been enhanced to include heart-healthy oils rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), such as extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed canola/soybean oils, or avocados, as the 5th pillar, to further improve cholesterol levels.

Overall, the Portfolio Diet has been found to improve several risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure. The health benefits of the Portfolio Diet have been recognized from several clinical practice guidelines globally. These include the clinical practice guidelines of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Diabetes Canada, Obesity Canada, Heart UK, Heart Foundation of Australia, the American College of Cardiology /American Heart Association, and the European Atherosclerosis Society.

Want to learn more? Check out the Portfolio Diet Infographic