The Ornish Diet

Created by Dr. Dean Ornish, the Ornish Diet is an extremely low fat diet that is based upon the belief that by eliminating fat from one’s diet, an individual will lose weight and improve her overall health.

The Diet

On the Ornish Diet, there is a long list of banned foods due to their fat content. This list includes meat, poultry, fish, all fats, oils, seeds, nuts, avocados and refined carbohydrates. Additionally, foods that contain sugar, even if they are low fat or nonfat should be avoided. Even nonfat dairy products, such as yogurt, skim milk and some cheeses, should only be consumed in small portions.

Dr. Ornish recommends eating several small meals throughout the day that are based on fruits and vegetables.

Based Upon Science

Dr. Ornish can prove his statement that a low fat diet can lead to an overall improvement in heart health through scientific research. This is one of the few low fat diets that are medically proven to help reverse heart disease without the combined use of drugs or surgery.


A diet that promotes an exercise routine will help promote weight loss and increase overall health benefits than simply dieting alone. The Ornish Diet recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or one hour of exercising three times a week.

What To Get Excited About

The Ornish Diet allows individuals to eat approved foods. This often means unlimited fruits and vegetables. By taking in less than 10% of calories from fats, dieters should be able to lose weight without counting calories or measuring.

Things To Consider

Despite Dr. Ornish’s claim, some fats actually are healthy and provide certain health benefits to the human body. Some types of fish provide omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce triglycerides and increase healthy HDL cholesterol. Certain vegetables and nuts, like avocados, have monosaturated fats, which help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, triglycerides and increased HDL levels.

For most individuals, a diet that is extremely restrictive is difficult to follow on a long-term basis. The human body runs the risk of being deprived of essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients on an extremely restrictive diet. Additionally, this diet severely limits protein sources. Some individuals may be unable to obtain their recommended daily amount of protein, which can lead to a loss in muscle and therefore a decrease in metabolism. This would slow the rate of weight loss.

For some individuals, the diet promoted by Dr. Ornish may require learning many new eating and lifestyle habits. The eating habits recommended by Dr. Ornish are extreme and drastic. The restrictive nature of these habits may make it difficult for individuals to stay on the Ornish Diet for a long time.


Overall, the Ornish Diet is extremely restrictive and may be difficult to for some individuals. It is based upon scientific research and individuals should experience improvement in blood pressure, heart health and cholesterol if properly followed.



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