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The best diet yet? Scientists say leafy vegetables slash heart disease

By Steph Cockroft The best healthy diet yet has been devised by scientists to reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet, known as the…

By Steph Cockroft

The best healthy diet yet has been devised by scientists to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The diet, known as the Portfolio Eating Plan, is packed with nuts, soya, leafy vegetables, oats, beans and pulses.
The plan is a new dietary approach and involves a combination of plant sterols or stanols, nuts high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E such as almonds, plant fibres and soya protein alongside regular exercise.
The diet should be low in saturated fat, high in fibre, low in salt and rich in fruit and vegetables and with a daily intake of 2g of sterols or stanols naturally found in plant foods, 30g of nuts, 20g of soluble fibre and 50g of soya.
Canadian researchers have found it lowered blood pressure by an average two per cent, when compared with the DASH diet.
The latter combines fruit and vegetables with foods such as fish, poultry and nuts but low in saturated fat by reducing meat, dairy and processed snacks.
The findings were produced after a secondary analysis of data collected for a 2011 study on the effect of the ‘portfolio diet’ on cholesterol.
Professor of nutritional sciences and medicine Dr David Jenkins at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto said: “This is a very important secondary finding to the original study, adding to the literature connecting diet with health.
“It fills in yet another area we often worry about. We can now say the dietary portfolio is ideal for reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease.”
High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke which historically has been treated with drugs.
But the study focused on dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors.
Prof Jenkins said: “Dietary approaches have been found to be as effective as the starting dose of the average single blood pressure medication.
“Overall, research has shown that plant-based diets emphasising foods higher in protein, oil and fibre reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
Previous research and studies have found that individual components of the dietary portfolio – mixed nuts, soya protein and viscous fibre – are effective at reducing blood pressure.
The diet’s positive effect on cholesterol has already impacted guidelines in Canada and Europe, he added.
The study was published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease.

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