Ornish Diet – a diet that makes you feel better

Ornish Diet

The aim: 

Variable. Can be tailored to losing weight, preventing or reversing diabetes and heart disease, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and preventing and treating prostate or breast cancer.

Low-fat Diet: These diets contain significantly less calories than the day recommended norm is.

The claim: 

It can make you “feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health.”

The theory: 

Dean Ornish, president and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco was considered revolutionary in the 90s when he suggested that a basically vegetarian diet coupled with exercise can reverse e symptoms of heart disease reduce stress and help people lose weight reduce stress and help people lose weight. On nutrition, Ornish categorizes food into five groups from most (group 1) to least (group 5) healthful. It’s the difference, for example, between whole-grain bread and biscuits, between soy hot dogs and pork or beef ones.

Many doctors and nutritionists now recommend this popular diet to people who need to lose weight and who may have heart conditions. The diet’s popularity partially stems from the fact it’s evidence-based


How does the Ornish Diet work?

Pros & Cons

  • Solid nutritionally
  • Your heart will love you
  • Staying the course could be tough
  • Not exactly cheap

Do's & Don'ts

Do: Turn to wild salmon. It provides a healthful dose of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, as long as your Ornish plan permits it. Serve up 3 ounces with a butter lettuce and pear salad drizzled with honey-infused vinaigrette.

Do:Eat all the beans, legumes, fruits, grains, and vegetables you need to feel full

Do:Eat dairy low- or nonfat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt in moderation. Only 10 percent of your calories should come from fat

Do:Avoid meats (red and white), oils and products containing oils, including avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy, and sugar

Do: Kick unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol in excess

Don’t: Gorge on unhealthful foods.

Choices such as fried chicken and biscuits are high in fat and among your least-healthful choices

Will you lose weight?

Perhaps, perhaps not. There are varying degrees of an Ornish diet. But if you’re exercising regularly and have adopted a menu filled with foods from the healthiest three nutrition groups – which emphasize produce, whole grains and fish – it’s likely.

Does it have cardiovascular benefits?

Without question. Ornish and a team of researchers were the first to show that heart disease, beyond being stoppable, can also be reversed, without drugs or surgery, through changes in diet and lifestyle. In a randomized trial of 48 heart-disease patients published in 1990 in The Lancet, the Ornish program to reverse heart disease reversed artery blockages after one year – and continued to do so after five years. The changes were highly meaningful when compared to a control group, whose condition worsened at both points. The diet has also been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Can it prevent or control diabetes?

Very likely.

Are there health risks?

No. It’s not off-limits to anyone, either. Still, experts advise checking with your doctor before making changes to your diet.

How well does it conform to accepted dietary guidelines?

Fat. Ornish diet plans are likely to be below, perhaps far below, the government’s recommended 20 to 35 percent of daily calories from fat.

Protein. In line with the 10 to 35 percent of daily calories the government recommends.

Carbohydrates. Most Ornish plans should fall within the government’s 45 to 65 percent recommendation; Ornish’s plan to reverse heart disease slightly exceeds it.

Salt. Two sample Ornish plans were below the 2,300 mg.( recommended daily maximum)

Other key nutrients. 

Fiber. Getting the recommended daily amount of 22 to 34 grams for adults helps you feel full and promotes good digestion.

  • A sufficient amount of this important nutrient, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, counters salt’s capacity to raise blood pressure, decreases bone loss and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. It’s not that easy to get the recommended daily 4,700 mg. from food. Ornish diet’s ingredients have enough of this nutrient.
  • It’s essential not only to build and maintain bones but to make blood vessels and muscles function properly. Many Americans don’t get enough. Women and anyone older than 50 should try especially hard to meet the government’s recommendation of 1,000 to 1,300 mg. You should clock in somewhere around your goal.
  • Vitamin B-12.Adults should shoot for 2.4 micrograms of this nutrient, which is critical for proper cell metabolism. You’ll meet or exceed this recommendation on Ornish.
  • Vitamin D. Adults who don’t get enough sunlight need to meet the government’s 15 microgram recommendation with food or a supplement to lower the risk of bone fractures. Sample Ornish plans came in just under the target.

Supplement recommended? Yes. Omega-3, and a multivitamin as insurance (in case you’re not as virtuous as you should be).

How easy is it to follow?

It may be difficult for some people to follow, especially over the long-term. The popular diet is essentially a vegan diet, Weiner says, and people may find it hard to avoid all meats, chicken, fish, and egg yolks. Also, she says, the diet is extremely low in fats of all types, and it’s often fat that adds flavor to foods and makes people feel satiated.


Recipes are abundant, and eating out is OK, if the chef can improvise. Alcohol is allowed in moderation.


You’re making everything, so if something doesn’t taste good, you know who to blame.

How much does it cost?

If you’re at the most healthful end of the spectrum, it’ll likely be pricey – produce, whole grains and fish are expensive.

What is the role of exercise?

It’s strongly encouraged. Exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week or 60 minutes three times a week. Manage stress with yoga and meditation and by spending time with your loved ones.

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