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The Ornish Diet – A Complete Overview

Ornish Diet
Ornish Diet

If you have good eating habits, you have a good lifestyle. A good nutritional diet is a key to the success of your daily life. Regardless of being an employed person or a student, you cannot work at your maximum capacity if you do not have an adequate diet. There is one diet that can change the course of your lifestyle, i.e., the Ornish diet. 

The diet is an innovative diet plan that promises to end chronic disease effects and improve physical health. This diet brings extensive changes to your lifestyle by making you follow a plant-based diet enriched with vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

You must be careful with maintaining this diet as it may have nutritional consequences without appropriate planning. The Healthline Diet Score has given this diet a score of 4.08 out of 5. It is also one of the most recommended food diets in the world.

This article will give you a complete overview of the Ornish Diet, where we will share its benefits and drawbacks.

Definition- What is an Ornish Diet? 

The Ornish Diet is a low-fat diet that prioritizes a complete overhaul of your eating habits. Even though it encourages weight loss, its low consumption of fats, a few minerals, and other food constituents may negatively impact your health. Soy products and egg whites are also part of the eating plan. 

Dr. Dean Ornish developed this diet. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California and founder of the charitable Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California.

Dr. Dean Ornish states that you can lose weight and prevent chronic diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes by overhauling your eating habits. This diet starts working by the activation of health-promoting genes while countering the aging at the cellular phase.   

How to follow the Ornish Diet?

The Ornish diet is straightforward to maintain and not like other influential diets. There is not a necessity to track your calorie intake. Moreover, there are no entirely disregarded foods from the diet plan except animal food products.

Meat and fish products are not part of the eating plan, and high-fat foods like vegetable oils are the dietary products you must adopt minimally. On the other hand, fruits, veggies, and soy foods are considered the most significant eating aspects of the Ornish diet. Therefore, these constituents should be a part of each of your daily meals.

Egg whites can also be made part of your plate. You can also enjoy non-fat food products such as yogurt twice a day. Healthy fats should contribute to 9% of the overall consumed calories. Most importantly, those fats should come from naturally occurring fat products like legumes. 

You can enjoy foods such as seeds thrice per day. However, you should know that your food consumption in this regard should be small. There should be less than three grams of fat per meal served.  

Ingredients such as sugar, alcohol, and carbs should be kept minimal in your diet plan. Apart from making changes to your eating habits, it is also essential to know how to burn your calories. You should have a half an hour plan of daily exercise to improve your physical results. 


If you can maintain the Ornish Diet, you will inevitably enjoy the numerous benefits that it will bring. The benefits of this diet are as follows:

Helps in weight loss

The Ornish Diet gives extreme importance to nutrient-dense food products such as fruits and vegetables. Therefore, this diet is an excellent strategy for losing weight. The Healthline conducted a study of 20 individuals. They concluded that following the Ornish Diet for a year, the studied samples lose an average weight of 7.5 pounds (3.3 kg).

This figure was more than other influential dietary plans such as Zone Diet, Atkins, and Weight Watchers. Likewise, another medical study conducted that 76 people who followed this diet for a year lost an average of 5 pounds (2.2 kg) of weight. There are also reports saying that if a person turns towards a vegetarian diet, it helps in weight loss.

Moreover, another study had 74 people who have the second type of diabetes. But, again, the study claimed that changing to a vegetarian diet was better than switching to a low-calorie diet to ensure weight loss.

Helps in disease prevention

Numerous researches regarding the Ornish diet conclude that this diet can end the risk of chronic diseases. In addition, the researchers also state that changing to a vegetarian diet could minimize the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. 

Similarly, other researchers claim that a healthy vegetarian diet could minimize the risk of particular types of cancer such as stomach or breast cancer. 

A Healthline study of 20 people compared the physical lifestyle regarding three different food diets in four weeks. One of those diets was the Ornish diet. The Ornish diet minimized the levels of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LPL) cholesterol, and swelling. All of these identities highlight the risk of heart diseases.  

Very easy to follow

Unlike the other formidable diets, the Ornish diet does not require you to look that deep into your calorie or nutrient intake. As a result, this diet requires significantly lesser effort and is flexible to follow. 

Dr. Dean Ornish claims that you must completely disregard the animal products from your dietary plans. Apart from them, there are no food products to be ignored. Even the packed items like vegetable burgers and cereals are permitted to be in the eating plans. They must contain less than three grams of fat as part of their ingredients per each food served. 

Considering there are no extreme rules and regulations in this dietary plan, it is straightforward to follow consistently. 


Even though the Ornish diet has numerous benefits for your physical lifestyle, there are some drawbacks that you must carefully examine. First, it has a low consumption of fats, less than 10% of the overall consumed calories.

Numerous medical experts recommend a person have at least 30% of his fat calories to maintain good physical health. However, if you adopt this new dieting plan, you must be aware of its challenges. 

Healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fatty acids can minimize swelling, maintain brain functionalities and provide healthy growth. In addition, it minimizes the factors leading to heart diseases. 

You should also know that getting rid of animal food products from your diet may bring nutritional deficiencies to your system. Many studies highlight the low level of proteins, calcium, and zinc from the human body because of this diet. You can take a multivitamin, which may help heal any deficiencies you have in your diet.

Foods that you must eat and abstain from

Considering that the Ornish diet is vegetarian, it encourages numerous fruits, vegetables, and legumes for you to eat. This section has broken down the food products that you should prefer, limit, and avoid.

  • Fruits: Apple, Banana, Oranges, Pomegranates, Apricot
  • Vegetables: Spinach, Cabbage, Peppers
  • Legumes: Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans.
  • Whole grains: Brown Rice, Oats, Amaranth.
  • Proteins: Egg Whites, Tofu. 
  • Herbs: Garlic, Cummin, Coriander. 

Food that you should limit

The following are the foods that you must restrict 

  • Nuts/Seeds (thrice a day): Walnuts, Almonds, Pumpkins, Flax Seeds.
  • Low-fat: Vegetable Burgers, Whole-Grain Cereals.
  • Energy drinks: Coffee (One Cup per day), Black Tea (Two Cups per day).
  • Dairy products (less than twice a day): Skim milk.
  • Fats: Olive Oil, Veggie Oil, Canola Oil.
  • Purified Carbs (twice a day): Crackers, Biscuit, Bread, Noodles, White Rice Honey. 
  • Alcohol (once a day): Wine, Liquor. 
  • Processed food: Fast Food, Potato Chips, Sandwiches.

Food that you should avoid

The following are the foods that you must ignore

  • Meat: Beef, Goat, Cow, Buffalo.
  • Seafood: Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster 
  • Poultry: Chicken, Duck
  • Egg Yolk

The Diet Sample

In this section, we will be providing you a 3-day menu for the Ornish diet.

Day 1

The meal for the first day is as follows:

  • Breakfast meal: Tofu scramble enriched with potatoes and vegetables.
  • Lunch meal: Brown rice enriched with black beans. 
  • Dinner meal: Veggie stew along with Brussels sprouts.

Day 2

The meal for the second day is as follows: 

  • Breakfast meal: Omelette with mixed vegetables. 
  • Lunch meal: bell peppers enriched with beans, tomatoes, and spinach.
  • Dinner meal: chickpea curry along with a side salad.

Day 3

The meal for the third day is as follows:

  • Breakfast meal: oatmeal alongside strawberries and blueberries.
  • Lunch meal: zucchini noodles along with the pesto.
  • Dinner meal: teriyaki tempeh along with stir-fried vegetables. 

Final Takeaways

The Ornish Diet is a low-fat diet that promises to offer considerable benefits to your health. Furthermore, considering that this diet is effortless to follow, it ensures weight loss and avoids any chronic disease risks. 

It has a low consumption of fats and may lack a few minerals and vitamins. This lack of constituents may harm your nutrition and physical health. If you plan to adopt this diet, make sure to be aware of the drawbacks that it can cause to your food. 

You can talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks surrounding this diet plan and whether it is beneficial to your health or not. They will clarify all your misunderstandings and be another asset for you to adopt an improved lifestyle.

Written by HealthRadar360

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