The statin alternative that lowers cholesterol just as much

Excuse me for being blunt, but statins suck.

They cause muscle pain, muscle damage, liver damage, digestive problems, memory loss, and high blood sugar, among other side effects.

Plus, they lower levels of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 in your body, which protects you from aging and disease.

So why are hundreds of millions of Americans taking them?

Well, because lots of people have high cholesterol that may put them at risk for serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes. And they don’t know how to lower their cholesterol without statins. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you are, you keep taking a medication that makes you feel lousy and has all these risks, because you don’t want to leave your high cholesterol untreated and end up in the emergency room recovering from a heart attack.

You’re stuck between a rock and a statin bottle.

But what about diet?

I’m sure you’ve heard that a healthy diet can lower your cholesterol. There’s just so much conflicting advice out there about what’s “healthy.” It’s a guessing game. How do you know if you’re eating the right things to get your cholesterol down and get off statins once and for all?

You’ll be happy to hear that I have an answer for you. There’s a diet that lowers cholesterol as much as some statins, which means it could be the key to getting off those pesky pills for good.

The cholesterol-lowering potential of the Portfolio Diet

The Portfolio Diet is an effective way to lower cholesterol (and improve other areas of health) but not many people know about it. That’s not because it’s some new fad. It’s been around for over 15 years but has managed to skirt the spotlight more than other disease-fighting diets like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the MIND diet and even The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution featured in a book.

Research shows that the primarily plant-based Portfolio Diet can drive your cholesterol down quickly and effectively. A 2018 review of seven clinical trials found that following the Portfolio Diet (combined with a low-saturated-fat diet) for anywhere between 4 and 24 weeks lowered cholesterol by 27 percent.

Guess what? That’s the same result you get with low-dose statins — without depleting your body of valuable CoQ10! It also lowered:

  • Triglycerides
  • Blood pressure
  • C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation)

Based on its ability to do all these wonderful things for your body, researchers determined that it lowered the risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years by 13 percent.

Putting the Portfolio Diet to the test

So, should you try the Portfolio Diet? If you’re serious about lowering your cholesterol and getting off statins, it’s worth a shot. But be warned, it might be a tough transition, especially if you’re a meat-eater.

Related: How to set your doctor straight on statins

The Portfolio Diet is based around plant foods. If you typically eat 2,000 calories per day, here’s what the Portfolio Diet would look like for you:

  • Plant protein (50 grams a day): tofu, soymilk, beans, lentils, tempeh, edamame, etc.
  • Nuts (45 grams a day): walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios — basically, all of them, even peanuts. Nut butters count too.
  • Viscous soluble fiber (20 grams a day): asparagus, oats, Brussel sprouts, barley, eggplant, okra, apples, berries, flaxseed, oranges, and psyllium.
  • Plant sterols (2 grams a day): wheat germ, wheat bran, peanuts, olive oil, almonds, and Brussels sprouts. You can also get them in fortified foods or supplements.

Now, you can eat meat and other animal products occasionally and still reap some benefits. But research shows the more strictly you stick to the plant-based philosophy of the Portfolio Diet, the better your results will be. And the sooner you can get off statins.

Editor’s note: Would you like to know how I dropped my cholesterol and got the doctor off my back? I listened to another cardiologist — EHO contributor Dr. Elizabeth Klodas. Her Peanut Butter Snack Bars are not only my new favorite snack, they helped me avoid a prescription I didn’t want to take and no longer need! Check out what others have to say at the link!

Sources:

  1. Taking Stock of the Portfolio Diet — Berkley Wellness
  2. Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks — Mayo Clinic
  3. Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight — But Only A Specific Type — Healthline
  4. Top 15 sources of plant-based protein — Medical News Today
  5. Lower Your Cholesterol with Plant Sterols and Stanols — Joslin Diabetes Center

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.