Ornish Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

ornish-diet The Ornish Diet has been developed by Dr. Ornish originally for use by his patients.

While many weight loss diets are low-fat, some fall into the category of being very low fat (where only 10-20% of the calories come from fats).

Dr Dean Ornish wrote a book called Eat More, Weigh Less. The Ornish Diet he prescribed is basically vegetarian.

Dean Ornish’s Diet Outline

Meat, poultry, and fish aren’t recommended. The only dairy allowed is fat-free yogurt, milk, fat free cheeses, and egg whites.

Foods not allowed are; all fats, oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, refined carbohydrates (including sugar, white rice, and white flour).

Other than these ‘banned’ foods, the diet allows you to eat all you want without any weighting or measuring. What’s left is predominantly fruit and vegetables, and grains.

Sample Meal Plan

Whole grain cereal with fat-free yogurt
orange juice
Baked potatoes stuffed with fat-free cheese and spinach
Potato salad with fat-free dressing
Green salad and fresh fruit
Bread with tomatoes and capers
Wholemeal pasta with vegetables
Peaches in wine
Water, tea, coffee, skim milk, juices.

Find other low fat recipes here.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

Too Restrictive?

All extreme or restrictive diets are difficult to follow. They also run the risk of depriving the body essential nutrients and minerals. Restricting fish, nuts, and seeds immediately cuts of any source of Essential Fatty Acids such as Omega 3.

It is good to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, but current research into nutrition and causes of obesity is beginning to show us that cutting out all fat is not necessarily the way to go.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Dr Alexander Jablanczy MD

    I am afraid that this diet is almost as much nonsense as Atkins.
    Orange juice skim milk?
    Are you out of your mind? Milk has lactose in it which is galactose and glucose!!! I forbid all my diabetic patients to have sweet milk and juice as they are drinking sugar! Don’t you know this?
    The only thing I permit is green black and herb teas WITH NOTHING.

    Bread ditto.WHEAT BELLY and GRAIN BRAIN say NO GM wheat no DM soy NO GM corn and only brown rice and substitute topinambour for potatoes!

    Also nuts olive oils seeds are absolutely essential if you dont want deficiency disease.

    Egg white? You are deranged, Egg white+sugar=toxic AGEs. As in meringue the worst food there is.
    Egg yolk on the other hand has essential nutrients of which biotin B7.

    Gotta go see patients.

    The key is less food down to 6OO cal / day twice a week Mosley
    and exercise half an hour walk tid.

  • SarahB

    Dr. Ornish has backed away from some of the restrictiveness of his original diet. The probelm with evaluating the success of the Ornish diet is that it was not separate from an entire program which included strss management. He got his patients to also practice meditation and activities like yoga. So you cannot really know how much, if any, of the success of the program was due to the diet. I have found that these high caarb low fat low protein diets are detoxification diets and can be useful for a short period of time to help people to overcome years of eating really bad processed foods, but after awhile, one needs a more building diet which would include healthy fats and clean sources of protein.

  • Clete

    I beg to differ that Celiac disease prevents one from following the Ornish diet. ANY grain is allowed in the Ornish diet, so if you’re sensitive to wheat, you can substitute rice, oats, barley, corn, and millet.

  • Luda

    I followed Dr. Ornish `s diet religiously a while ago for 1 year and lost 30 lb. It was easy to do because I LOVE grains and fruits. It changed my life completely. There are good amount of fat in all grains so it`s not completely a fat free diet.

  • drew

    Go low carb, we didn’t evolve to eat most carbs, fat is good for you xx

    • Scott

      WE DID EVOLVE AT ALL!!…thats the problem with most of the wanna-be’s out here…stuck in theory’s and not in the reality of the Creator!

      • Jon

        Ha Ha ! Well said Scott, it’s great to see that some of you still live in the dark ages ! Evolution can be proven, just look at the Galapagos Islands….whereas the proof of the bible being the word of god is….? Darwins theory of evolution didn’t cause anyone to die, unlike the bible which is responsible for millions of deaths ! All praise education ….(get ready for the onslaught) lol

  • Rose

    I also take iron tablets and sublingual B12.

  • Rose

    I disagree that it’s unworkable for celiac disease. I am gluten intolerant, plus diabetic, have pancreatic insufficiency, histamine intolerance, salicylate sensitivity, fructose malabsorption, fibromyalgia AND I have CVD. I am totally grain free and now vegetarian thanks to the Dean Ornish diet. I take fish oil capsules containing omega 3 and 6, eat plenty of lentils, small amounts of fruit and vegetables, flaxseed meal, egg whites and NO dairy. I also take a MV, and drink rice milk fortified with calcium. Rice milk is my only nod to grains. I can’t see where I’m missing out. Please enlighten me if I am, somebody.

    • remy

      I have all these terrible digestion problems, i am curious how you have been diagnose all these problems.

    • Michael Lovin

      While Dr. Ornish is well respected and intelligent…he is also very biased in his thinking. I am afraid that you have fallen into this trap as well. The human body is an amazingly adaptable animal. But it too has it’s limits of endurance and toleration of it’s environment. As an old expression states “somethings gotta give”. We as humans are born as omnivores, meaning we were meant to eat meat/fish AND vegetables AND grains/nuts…no new wave thinking or antidotal evidence will change that. Those B12 you mentioned are SYNTHETIC, therefore your putting the very thing (processed foods) in your body that your also claiming is bad for you. There is simply no better diet than the balance of all of these foods I mentioned…all in MODERATION, coupled with some activity. I do agree that processed foods are not good for you. Added chemicals and preservatives are, of course not healthy and cause a great many of our problems. Problems that the biggest liers on the face of the earth, take advantage of us (Big Pharma) by creating more and more pills everyday to cure our ills (steal your money is more accurate). Smaller more frequent meals are akin to an active nomad existence…these are our forefathers…and while we now live longer, we also survived greater environmental hardships in those days. That diet was good enough to expand our brains and our body during the harsh conditions and environment. They ate meat, grains, fruits, nuts, berries, fish…etc….sorry Dr. Ornish…I like you, but your wrong.

      • Katelyn Madsen

        My mothers heart surgeon thinks Dean Ornish is the only way to go with getting you back on track with a healthy heart. Often, eating just a simple basic menu without adding things that are the most healthy is what you need to get back on track. Simplify! Why mess around with the cake and an occasional cookie? Get it done and do it faster is usually the best motto. My moms doctor said if you need to splurge do it only once every few months. My mom is healthier than she has been in decades. I swear by Ornish, and am so impressed, I am following in her footsteps.

      • Barbara

        Thank you all for your comments. Wish I could find a cardiologist in Las Vegas who has this manner of treating the heart.

      • Jack Nemo

        Michael: I appreciate your opinion, but it would be helpful if you could cite the sources that support that opinion. Dr. Ornish includes several substantial studies that support the claim of reducing plaque buildup in the arteries. I am considering his diet due to my CVD problem but I would like to know as much as possible before starting.

      • Rose

        I should add that I don’t absorb B12 anyway, so would still have to supplement with it even if I was eating meat.

      • Rose

        Michael Lovin

        Eating meat, vegetables, nuts/seeds etc is desirable, but if one already has CVD and you want to reverse it rather than undergoing risky open heart surgery, there is only one alternative and that is the Dean Ornish diet and exercise. I have tried eating nuts while on this diet and the result was a return of angina pain. Perhaps sometime down the track I will be able to modify the diet I’m currently on but it’s too son right now.

  • Ahab

    Slick Willy’s on s modified version of this diet. It is unworkable for people with celiac disease though, and his restrictions leave out large sources of nutrients. He also considers HDL a bad compound despite recent research on it and oleic acid.

  • William P

    Its all about circulation. Fats clog all blood vessels. American meats loaded with fat. Cells deteriorate without full blood flow. Blood brings cell repair materials. Limited blood means inadequate cell repair. That causes aging and disease. Proper diet keeps all blood vessels open. Exercise builds and maintains a powerful pump – your heart. You live long and healthy.

  • John

    I just found this forum after looking for one on this diet nothing comes up which was a worry. I also see there is a number of doctors have produced similar books and one that questions leaving out avocado and fish etc it’s a bit of which way do you go dose anybody have advise.

  • Kieran Sullivan

    ‘Also, there is little evidence that animal fats are harmful to humans–after all we have been consuming them for eons.’

    yeah but it’s fat…

  • William L. Wilson, M.D.

    Although parts of the Ornish diet are healthy, especially the emphasis on fruits and vegetables, other parts of the plan may be problematic. Recent research suggests that grains and legumes may not be the best choice and a total vegan diet is clearly a poor choice.

    Humans evolved as carnivores and we have been eating grains, dairy and legumes for a relatively micro-second of our evolutionary history. Genetically we are still hunter-gatherers. Grains and legumes are loaded with anti-nutrients, substances that are low level toxins. Plants are involved in an evolutionary tug of war with those we want to eat their seeds. If all there seeds are consumed, no more plant. Thus grains and legumes use a type of chemical warfare to make their seeds less attractive. Celiac disease is the most obvious example of this phenomena.

    Also, there is little evidence that animal fats are harmful to humans–after all we have been consuming them for eons.

    For an evidence based discussion of these issues, I recommend that you read Loren Cordain’s excellent book “The Paleo Answer”.

    Dr. Wilson

  • kind of yummy

    I am surprised because the menu sounds TERRIBLE and ASCETIC but the diet is actually not bad at all. Pretty much just take your regular vegetarian foods and don’t add oil or avocados. Eat your regular dairy, just make it fat free. Use egg substitute. In his newest book The Spectrum, Ornish has some fish in his recipes – low-mercury omega rich salmon and shrimp. He also recommends taking fish oil capsules. He lists foods on a spectrum – 1 being the most healthy and 5 being the least healthy. He says that for reversing heart disease you do need to make drastic changes to see results, about 10% of calories from fat. But he also advocates more gradual changes for prevention, stating that some people metabolize fat differently and sometimes just a few changes are enough to keep a person’s blood cholesterol at a target of 150 or lower. So his program for healthy people is more gradual for prevention and he advocates an individual making the choice of how much to commit. I think 1% or 2% milk and cheese are either 2 or 3 on his spectrum, so it’s not even out of the realm of possibility that an average person could eat normally with his plan (just no meats and reduced fat).

    I think the sample menu above is so terrible (rabbit food!) so I provided my own alternative that I believe meets his guidelines for the reversal plan (10% of calories from fat):

    cereal with skim milk, fat free yogurt and a banana, oatmeal with blueberries, banana / strawberry smoothie with splenda and whey protein, whole wheat (no oil) pancakes with crushed blueberries, egg white / substitute omelet with fat free cheddar cheese and green peppers, etc etc.

    Corn tortillas with (fat free) refried beans, salsa, and (fat free) mozzarella cheese, soaked in enchilada sauce (no oil), picco de gallo (tomatoes, onions and cilantro without oil) to taste.

    or Soy “chicken” patty on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and fat free mayo with quartered pickle and glass of skim milk. Extra yummy with baked sweet potato “fries.”

    or Pesto sauce blend (no oil) tossed over whole wheat spaghetti with mushrooms, tofu, tomato slices and green peas

    or Hummus & veggie hot dog sandwich – 2 slices honey wheat bread, coated in hummus (without oil or tahini), sprouts, and topped with a heated and sliced veggie hot dog.

    OR 15-bean minestrone soup (15 bean packet cooked, vegetable broth, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, whole wheat pasta shells) with 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese.


    Chunky chili (tomatoes, red beans, onion, garlic, seasoning, BOCA “ground beef” crumbles) served over a plate of Ronzoni garden pasta or spaghetti squash. Top with “veggie shreds” (fake cheese) or fat free cheese.

    Kashi 7 grain whole grain pilaf (sold in stores) cooked with low sodium soy sauce, stir fry vegetables and tofu, bean sprouts, or shrimp.

    Wild Alaskan salmon with a side of garlic mashed potatoes (no butter), broccoli, stewed black eyed peas (not sure if he allows fish on the reversal plan, check first!)

    Snacks and desert: fruit cobbler with splenda, fruit smoothies, applesauce packets, veggies in hummus,

  • Werner M.Zepp

    If you want to reverse heart disease, actually free clogged arteries, you should watch DR. ESSELSTYN on YOUTUBE. The tape is called” Make yourself heart attack proof”. Fascinating to watch, I promise. Esselstyn’s diet is pretty close to Ornish, but based on lengthy and detailed study.

  • Jackson

    To JimGr
    There is plenty of concrete scientific evidence that shows that animal fat and animal proteins are the source of chronic diseases of affluence (heart disease, cancer, and others)here in the west. I would suggest reading The China Study by Dr. Campbell.
    I am a newer convert to veganism after enjoying delicious meat at almost every meal for 40 some years. My friends and family can’t believe I would switch to this diet, however I am convinced that the evidence and statistics are true.
    Also, I have been on this for a few weeks and feel better than ever, getting plenty of energy and nutrition from a delicious plant based diet. Yes, I said delicious. There are lots of recipes out there to make a plant based diet nutritious and delicious.
    I hope you keep searching for data to support what I have written.

  • JimGr

    This whole Ornish thing is contrary to the tons of scientific studies I’ve been reading. High carbs in your diet cause heart disease, not high fat diets. Eating his diet is very prone to make you fat and unhealthy.

  • Roy

    I have no doubt that this works well. But do the benefits come from the food choices or the calorie restriction. (Yes I know calories are not “restricted” but reduced calories are a result of these food choices)

  • Richie

    I don’t understand something about this Ornish “diet.” I always thought white potatoes and corn were to be avoided at all costs. Why are they allowed in Ornish’s world?

  • Daryl

    Before I went on the Ornish deating plan, I weighed 89kg at a 5ft 9 frame. Three months later, I am now 69kg. I feel better and leaner. Plus, I sleep better too.

  • rosemarie mondano

    i love this diet b-coz it help us how to prevent heart disease.

  • Janice

    I have celiac sprue so the only whole grains I can eat are brown and wild rice, gluten free oats, and quinoa. I have 50/50 (A and B patterns) cells in my blood. My HDL is not high enough. So how do I get rid of the A pattern cells and turn them into the B pattern? And how do I get my HDL higher? Will the Dr. Ornish diet/a vegan diet help me.

  • Sherley

    I heard about this diet & Dr Ornish but thought it was too restrictive. I don’t have heart disease but I have problem digesting red meat & try not to each it. I think this would benefit my husband, he’s 80, It sounds anti-inflammatory so I think I’ll try it as I need to lose 100 Lbs from taking steroids. I think Dr Ornish has the answer to eliminate heart disease

  • Nikki

    This diet works wonders for those who need it. Every persons body is different and your doctor should be the one to help with what diet works best for you. My dad had his first heart attack before he was 40. He had a stint put in and was put on all kinds of meds. He had his second heart attack in 1998. The doctor told him his heart beat was too irratic and putting him under would only be dangerous. There wasn’t anything they could do for him except try putting him on Dean Ornish’s diet, which the doctor himself was sceptical of. My dad did it and stuck to it. He still eats like that today and is still alive. His blockages were cleared using this diet and exercise combined with his usual medicine’s. My dad’s doctor was amazed at the results and said he was a believer and would offer the diet to any patients willing and needing the diet.

  • anil arora

    how to counter mercury poisoning of sea water fishes if we stop all oils and take fish oils.

  • Ron

    The level of mischaracterization of what Dr. Ornish recommends in his program is truly astonshing and shameful. His program is basically the ONLY one ever backed by real science and shown to REVERSE heart disease. If you don’t have heart disease of any kind or are not worried about it, then don’t use his program, but the way it is assessed here is simply very misleading and that is unfortunate. Not to mention that some of the uncanny nutritional ignorance shown in some of these comments is even more astonishing, especially concerning sources of Omega 3’s. People need to seriously study a bit more before they make these comments.

  • Lacey

    I am already a vegan. I loved eating meat my whole life. I stopped 3 years ago after watching the meet your meat videos. I noticed that without the lactic acid in my body I could workout for longer periods of time. I had lost 32lbs in the first 2 months then plateaued. I then started eating meat again after 2 years of being vegan. Gained the weight I had lost back so fast. Now I’m vegetarian and I dont miss meat in the least bit. Being vegetarian or vegan isnt for everyone, but there are a great number of health benefits from doing such. I have never read the book above, but I am personally doing a Atkins/vegetarian crossover and its working out great!…As with all diets you NEED to take a multivitamin (Maggie)!!!!
    My meat eating boyfriend LOVES all my vegetarian/vegan recipes but he needs his steak so.

  • jocko

    by the way… i used dr atkins diet…lots of meats, yummy, to start. Lost 50 lbs in less than 6 months. Don’t know how anyone can live and enjoy eating without meat. BTW… doc checked my metrics and they were great. Best in my life… and no yoga.

  • jocko

    My gosh… spend a life eating nothing and get what an extra year? I think I enjoy life and go at my appointed time. And, there is no way I am letting that pagan yoga into my mind.

    • staciejung

      “Pagan” yoga? How uninformed are you?

  • Anju

    This is a revolution in the field of diet.

  • Mistaken

    Wrong on the omega 3’s, but if you must get it to satisfy fat addiction, Ornish allows fish oil and no one will buct fat% by eating a TBSP of ground flaxseed on oatmeal (it has over 100% of the n=3 you need). But keep looking for the tiniest reason to feed your fat additcion.

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