Plant-based foods are known to be good for the heart. Are there any foods in particular that lower cholesterol and keep this vital organ strong and healthy? Yes, suggests a new study. In fact, there are four main foods whose heart benefits have been proven by several controlled trials.
Plant-based diets are great for cardiovascular health, but a vegetarian diet low in saturated fats may not be the best thing for keeping cholesterol in check.
Instead, it may be better to selectively eat a few foods that decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is also known as the "bad" cholesterol.
This was the main takeaway of an influential study, published in 2011, that presented a "portfolio" of four foods that had each been proven to reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk. These foods are:
- plant protein obtained either from soy-based foods such as tofu, soy milk, or other soy-based meat substitutes, or from pulses such as beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils
- soluble fiber, such as "oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, or berries"
- margarine enhanced with plant sterols, or "cholesterol-like" compounds that can be found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals
Ever since 2011, several governmental organizations have recognized the benefits of this so-called Portfolio diet.
Now, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes has commissioned a meta-analysis of all the evidence available to assess and summarize the benefits of the Portfolio diet for preventing cardiovascular disease.