Just In: This Diet May Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease In Women Over 50

Assistant Managing Editor By Abby Moore
Assistant Managing Editor
Abby Moore is an assistant managing editor at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Senior Woman Cooking In The Kitchen

While preventive care is an incredibly valuable tool in mitigating health concerns, it's never too late to start adopting healthy habits. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association proves that women over 50 who begin adhering to the Portfolio diet may be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life. 

What is the Portfolio diet?

The Portfolio diet contains mostly plant-based foods, which, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol. The foods in question include: 

  • Nuts, including peanut butter, peanuts, and more. 
  • Plant protein from soy, green peas, beans, and tofu
  • Soluble fiber from oats, barley, okra, eggplant, oranges, apples, pears, and berries. 
  • Monounsaturated fats from olive oil and avocado
  • Limited consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol, like organ meats, high-fat dairy products, eggs, poultry, and butter. 

How does this diet benefit heart health in women over 50?

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The researchers studied more than 123,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S. who followed a Portfolio diet. At the start of the study, none of the women had cardiovascular disease. When following up (on average about 15 years later), researchers found that those who closely adhered to the diet were 11% less likely to develop any cardiovascular diseases, as well as 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, and 17% less likely to develop heart failure. 

The results were observational and will require more research to understand exactly how these foods protect the heart. However, "an 11% reduction is clinically meaningful and would meet anyone's minimum threshold for a benefit," senior study author John Sievenpiper, M.D., Ph.D., said in a news release.

Even better news? You don't have to overhaul your entire way of eating to see results. "We also found a dose response in our study," lead author Andrea J. Glenn, M.Sc., R.D., said, "meaning that you can start small, adding one component of the Portfolio diet at a time, and gain more heart-health benefits as you add more components." 

Bottom line. 

It's never too late to start supporting your heart health. Even those who began incorporating cholesterol-lowering foods later in life saw positive results. And come on: If eating an apple with peanut butter can do more than just satisfy your snack cravings, why would you not give in?


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