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 and The Ornish Diet is just that.

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.

He eliminates many foods that are now considered some of the healthiest foods a dieter can eat, such as avocados and walnuts. We’ve learned a lot about fats since this book was published and his advice is pretty outdated.

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.


  • Hongu, N., Wise, J. M., & Gallaway, P. J. (2014). Healthy Fats: Tips for Improving the Quality of Fat Intake. link
  • Lawrence, G. D. (2013). Dietary fats and health: dietary recommendations in the context of scientific evidence. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(3), 294-302. link
  • Michas, G., Micha, R., & Zampelas, A. (2014). Dietary fats and cardiovascular disease: Putting together the pieces of a complicated puzzle. Atherosclerosis, 234(2), 320-328. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: December 16, 2014. Disclaimer


  1. Angelo

    I was about to give my own opinion, when I thought it would be better to direct people to a presentation given by Ornish and let them decide for themselves.



  2. Minnie

    All the members of may family who have lived to a ripe old age including my Dad who is 85 and going strong lived on meat, butter, fried food and all the stuff that’s supposed to be bad for us except that they didn’t eat processed food. People who live on totally restrictive diets tend to be boring evangelists. I have friends who worry continually about what they are eating and what it contains. They comment on other people’s diets to the point of rudeness and as far as I can see none of them are healthier or fitter than my other friends who enjoy life, living and food. My family are rambunctious,full of life and humour, enjoy family occasions where food is shared and enjoyed. I’d rather live a happy and joyous 85 years than a miserable 100!

  3. Scott Raphael

    WOW!!! Most of you don’t have a clue! The fact are crystal clear!! everything you need to sustain a healthy life and be disease free are in plants. All the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, calcium, iron and everything else you will need to live well. these facts are well documented the only thing that will be lacking in a plant based lifestyle is vitamin B-12 that can easily be found in seaweed.
    People before you comment on “the dangers” of a plant based diet DO THE RESEARCH!!!

  4. cynda

    Listen guys, this guy has it all wrong! If his way of eating was the right way then he would be the picture of health. He looks soooo bad. Look up a current picture of him,(sagging skin, straw for hair). I tried to eat this way for many years and not only could I not maintain my weight, but I too became gaunt looking (think Madonna before facial fat injections). Our bodies want clean (grass-fed) meats and yes fats! Don’t listen to him, listen to your body.

  5. Brenda

    I need to try something, and for me regular eating is not helping me become or even stay healthy. There must be something to eating more fruits, vegetables, less fat, and will let you all know if this Dr. Ornish lifestyle works for me! Talk to you in about 2 months!

  6. fu

    this is the grossest most obvious diet in the world. So your telling me if i eat nothing but tasteless rabbit food I will lose weight?? WHATS THE CATCH???!


  7. Patty

    It’s a no brainer that eating what nature intended us to eat, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed grains as well as legumes, nuts and seeds is the way to go. It’s how to incorporate this type of eating in our society that is the greatest challenge. I’ve been reading “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins who notes three societies that the elders live to near or over 100 as the norm and it’s based on the whole grain foods type of eating. Where I think we go wrong is what commercialism sells us. Buy the latest low fat cookies and processed this and that to loose weight. It lead me to wait gain because I wasn’t eating what was whole grain, just what was low fat and I was over eating on graham crackers, bagels etc. I’m going to try it again, but this time, with the knowledge that the western diet is deadly and I need to say no to the processed foods, white bread/cereals, sugar(I’m addicted to).

  8. Lose your ego

    This remains to this day the only DIET (combined w/ lifestyle, aka go read Okinawan diets as well, every longevity diet need lifestyle changes too) that is scientficially proven to fix your heart. They are now studying effects on cancer as well. These comments about reduced nutrients show lack of understanding. For example … less protein intake means you require less calcium. The complaint about reduced EFA’s doesn’t mention once what humans really need, only that compared to other diets, which btw are unhealthier, there is more EFA in it. Again, looking at the whole picture, Ornish is the only diet of the 100s listed in this site that has science behind it. The most complaints stem from those who yes are addicted to sugar, fat, cheese, oils. You need a detox to remove the cravings (try McDougalls 10 day) and then start up w/ Ornish. I did it and I am a born and bred cow eating sombatch from the sticks.

  9. aaron bodle

    God also said thou shalt not kill! It’s funny (not really) how arrogant we are to kill animals.

  10. garry

    The Bible says in the end times there will be those who say do not eat meat….but Paul says to eat what is put before u but to always ask God to bless it first . The Lord gives us three score and ten (70 years)and I am sure that if u include the deaths at birth it still does not exceed that number. Why suffer eating things u dont want for years and still die in the average life span when u can eat what u like in moderation and ask the Lord to bless it and enjoy your life.. P.S. my great grandmother lived to be 91 and grandpa lived to be 106…. so…….