The Ornish Diet

The Ornish diet (Dean Ornish Diet) or a low-fat diet is a method of losing weight that simultaneously maintains heart health to avoid the risk of chronic disease. Reporting from Healthline, this diet was initiated by Dean Ornish, a doctor, and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California, United States.

Not Just Nutritious Menus

The diet that was once adopted by the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was discovered in the early 1990s. The inventor is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

According to his 1995 book, “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease,” the Ornish diet emphasizes a vegetarian meal plan.

What are the benefits of the Ornish diet that make it so popular? The inquiry has inquired, and this diet is famous for its claims to prevent and help restore heart disease. Despite adopting a vegetarian menu, this diet contains a variety of other nutrients.

The Ornish diet focuses on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and limits refined carbohydrates, animal protein, and fats. Only 10 percent of calories come from fat. Well, this kind of diet can be healthy for the heart.

When it comes to weight loss, the Ornish diet tends to be different from most other diets. To lose weight, the Ornish diet focuses on the mental side of weight loss by incorporating stress management techniques.

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, stress reduction is a core element of the Ornish diet program. Interestingly, this diet is not only about nutritional intake or stress management.

The Ornish Diet also recommends that someone who goes through it practices deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. There are also other recommended physical exercises, namely resistance training, stretching, and aerobic exercise.

Finally, this diet also recommends that a person strengthen relationships with family and friends. Both are the key to getting a good quality of life that can affect the health of the body.

Well, nutritional intake, stress management, physical activity, and the importance of social relationships, are the four elements that a person needs to apply while on the Ornish diet.

Can Healthy Heart

The Ornish diet is recommended for those living with chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. This diet is expected to improve the physical and mental condition of someone who suffers from this chronic disease.

The Ornish Diet recommends that a person increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fiber, as well as reduce intake of refined carbohydrates, sodium, and alcohol.

As explained above, this diet is not just about healthy eating. However, it also focuses on physical activities such as exercise, stress management, and social support. These points can improve a person’s overall health.

So, is it true that the benefits of the Ornish diet can make one’s heart healthy? Dr. Ornish has researched this diet. The focus of the study is on randomized clinical trials that aim to reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery.

The study followed 48 patients with severe coronary heart disease over six years. What is the result? The study concluded that those who adhered to a healthy lifestyle for five years, similar to the recommendations outlined in the Ornish diet, reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand, those who do not adopt a healthy lifestyle continue to develop heart disease. Well, how interested are you in implementing this diet?


Essentially, this diet is designed as a low-fat or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, increasing your intake of vegetables while allowing you to consume some eggs and milk. In addition, there are other types of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. According to Dean, this diet is very simple to do. Healthy fats should account for about 10% of total daily calorie intake, with the remainder coming from whole grains.

Food and Drink

The Ornish Diet is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet that focuses on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Below is a list of foods and drinks that are safe for consumption, limited, or avoided according to the rules.

1. Recommended Foods

  • Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, grapefruit, berries, pomegranates, melons, pears, and apricots.
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, peppers, garlic, onions, spinach, zucchini.
  • Legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans.
  • Whole grains: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, barley, brown rice, oats.
  • Sources of protein: tempeh, tofu, and egg whites
  • Herbs and spices: garlic, cumin, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg.

2. Limited Food

  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds (3 small servings per day are recommended).
  • Low-fat packaged foods: whole grain cereals, whole grain crackers, veggie burgers.
  • Caffeinated drinks: one or two cups of black tea/coffee without sugar per day.
  • Dairy products: nonfat yogurt, skim milk, (2 or fewer servings per day).
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, butter, vegetable oil, and canola oil.
  • Refined carbohydrates: white pasta, crackers, crackers, white bread, pancakes, flour tortillas, white rice, honey, agave, brown sugar, and white sugar (2 or fewer servings per day).
  • Alcohol: wine, and beer in very small portions.
  • Processed foods: high-fat fast food, baked goods, fast food, potato chips, and pretzels (can be consumed in small portions).

3. Foods to Avoid

  • Meat: beef, lamb, goat, and fatty offal.
  • Seafood: salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines, shrimp, lobster.
  • Poultry: chicken, turkey, goose, duck, and egg yolks should not be eaten.

Potential Benefits

This diet provides several benefits, among which are the following:

1. Lose Weight

This diet emphasizes nutrient-dense intake such as fruits, vegetables, and vegetable protein. All of them are the best foods to help you lose weight. Based on research results, people who consistently follow this diet can lose around 3.3 kg, thereby reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

2. Prevent Chronic Disease

Other research facts show that a vegetarian diet like this one can help prevent chronic disease. In addition, cholesterol levels such as triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, will generally be suppressed to reduce the risk of heart disease.

3. Improving a Healthy Lifestyle

According to Dean, as long as one adheres to the recommended intake, the results of this diet can be seen to be significant and make the body fitter. Keep in mind that all types of food that are not recommended on this diet should not be consumed.

Side Effects

For beginners, this diet method might be able to produce a certain reaction because the body loses its fat supply quite drastically.

Meanwhile, according to health experts, a person’s body should ideally get around 20 percent to 35 percent of its total daily calories from fat to help optimize body performance.

Therefore, you should do the Ornish diet slowly while adjusting the body’s capabilities and making sure the food consumed is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

The Ornish Diet – Benefits, Food List, and Side Effects
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