Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Better living through chemistry

March 20

A recent study found that people who stuck to the Portfolio Eating Plan could lower their LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol by about as much as if they took cholesterol-lowering medication.
To follow the Portfolio Eating Plan, you have to stick to a 2000-calorie-per-day diet that includes a handful of almonds, 20 grams of viscous fiber, 50 grams of soy protein and 2 grams of plant sterols, and get your recommended 5-9 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Ideally, the designers of the plan said, you should probably stick to a vegan diet, too, although you can eat egg whites if you must.
A handful of almonds seems reasonable, and I like almonds.
Twenty grams of viscous fiber means five cups of cooked oats, or three and a third cups of cooked kidney beans, or six and two-thirds apples, or 5.8 cups of strawberries. There are other options available, but they’re less appealing.
To get 50 grams of soy protein you need one and two-thirds cups of firm tofu, or five Boca burgers, or eight cups of soy milk.
Plant sterols? Forget it. You’d need to eat 15 avocados (at six ounces each), which would blow your 2,000 calorie diet. Or you could drink just under a cup of corn oil, or 3.3 cups of olive oil, or eat 22.22 cups of soy beans (cooked, I would assume). Or, apart from that handful of almonds you already agreed to eat, you could have 59 more handfuls.
There also are some supplements you can take. Just over a tablespoon of those will give you the 2 grams of plant sterols you need.
Or, of course, you could just take your cholesterol-lowering medicine.

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