Real assets can provide advantages that financial assets cannot.Real assets are tangible items with value. Real estate, oil and gold are good examples. The sophisticated investments behind real estate investment trusts, or REITs, and master limited partnerships, or MLPs, help diversify a portfolio. There are about 200 publicly traded REITs in the United States. They concentrate on certain sectors, such as retail, office or medical. At least 90 percent of a REIT’s taxable income is paid as dividends, which can make it difficult for a REIT to grow without taking on debt. So it’s better to invest in REITs successful enough to grow from their own cash on hand. MLPs are publicly traded limited partnerships with at least one general partner, where the limited partners can’t lose more than they put in. Most MLPs invest in oil or gas, and at least 90 percent of their cash flow comes from real estate, commodities or natural resources. MLPs often need to borrow to grow, thus they’re at the mercy of interest rates. But you can ignore the majority of MLPs in the energy business and find one that’s more diversified, making your investment less subject to fluctuations in commodity prices.