Ornish Diet

The Ornish Diet might be the most rigorous and the most demanding of all the diets which exist for weight reduction and weight management.

The Ornish Diet was developed by Nathan Pritkin and Dean Ornish. In a study released in the 1990s, Ornish demonstrated how following the Ornish Diet brought about a slight but significant reversal of heart disease in a small group of patients.

The Ornish Diet involves following a low-fat food regimen. Only ten percent of the energy comes from fat. Only vegetarian food is allowed. The diet program involves exercise, meditation and counseling as an integral part.

Dr. Ornish divides food into three segments – foods to avoid altogether, foods to eat in moderation and foods to eat freely.

Foods to avoid

  • Meat of all kinds
  • Oil and oil containing foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Sugar and simple sugar foods like honey
  • High fat dairy products
  • Alcohol
  • Any commercial food with more than 2 g of fat per serving

Foods to eat in moderation

  • Nonfat dairy products — skim milk, nonfat cheeses, nonfat yogurt, nonfat sour cream, and egg whites
  • Any commercially prepared foods with less than 2 g of fat per serving.

Foods to eat freely

These foods can be eaten whenever you are hungry until you are full.

  • Fruits
  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Beans and legumes

Dr. Ornish says his diet program is more than just about food. He recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily or 1 hour three days a week. He also recommends some kind of stress management technique, like meditation, yoga, martial arts, massage etc.

Support for Ornish Diet

Some in the medical community hail the Ornish Diet as the only science based diet. They point out to his success in reversing heart disease without medication. They say that following the Ornish diet will give results without any side effects.

People who have followed the Ornish Diet swear by it and say it has succeeded in maintaining their health over a long period of time.

Criticism of Ornish Diet

Some people regard the Ornish Diet to be too impractical and rigorous. Most people will not be able to follow it for a long period.

The fact that the Ornish diet almost eliminates all fats from our diet has also been criticized. Research suggests that some types of fat are essential for survival. It is only the bad fats that have to be eliminated.

Also, it is difficult to decide what part of the Ornish diet has contributed to what amount in its success reducing heart diseases. Is it the food, the exercise or stress management that has the most influence?

If you want to know more about Ornish Diet, you can catch hold of the book ‘Eat More, Weigh Less’ by Dr. Ornish.


Changes in emerging cardiac biomarkers after an intensive lifestyle intervention.
Chainani-Wu N, Weidner G, Purnell DM, Frenda S, Merritt-Worden T, Pischke C, , Campo R, Kemp C, , Kersh ES, Ornish D.

Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, California, USA. mnita.wu@ucsf.edu

Lifestyle changes are related to reductions in depression in persons with elevated coronary risk factors.
Pischke CR, Frenda S, Ornish D, Weidner G.
Psychol Health. 2010 Nov;25(9):1077-100.
PMID: 20204946 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet.
Ornish D.
N Engl J Med. 2008 Nov 13;359(20):2170; author reply 2171-2. No abstract available.
PMID: 19009670 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

1 response to Ornish Diet

  1. I am a nutritionist.I have successfully treated several patients with heart diseases.I will suggest Dr Ornish to read intregated metabolism of human body and to reconstitute his therapy.

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