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Ornish Diet Review

Ornish Diet Review
7.8 Total Score
Reading Time: 3 minutesDr. Dean Ornish founded the Ornish Diet in 1989, and it focuses on patients who are at risk of cardiovascular diseases or heart attacks. No major foods are essentially banned while on this diet program in the early phases, but each food group is placed in a group, with 1 being the healthiest and 5 being the least healthy. The recommended break down of calories is 10% fat (very low), 20% protein, and 70% carbs.* The diet does try to exclude alcohol consumption, sugar, and white flour, but does not have any calorie restrictions per se. As long as the majority of foods you are eating are in-group 1, you should lose weight.* The diet is said to lower blood cholesterol levels, and prevent the destruction of arteries near the heart. The diet is pretty straight forward, and it claims to be the first program to reverse heart disease by optimizing the four areas of your life.*

The Four Areas of Your Life:

  1. What You Eat (Be mindful of the groups you are eating in the majority of the time.)
  2. How You Manage Stress (What triggers your eating?)
  3. How Much You Move (Promotes at least 30 minutes of activity per day).
  4. How Much Love and Support You Have (Do you have a solid support system?)

Is The Ornish Diet Easy To Follow?

For some, it will be relatively easy to follow, and for others, it will become harder the more rigorous the diet gets. The problem most people will run into is the restriction of fat to only 10% of your daily calories. Depending on your health needs, it may be more realistic to up this number by 5-10%. The cost can also be an issue, depending on your health conditions and what groceries you will need to buy.* High quality fish, fibers, and vegetables can be costly, as you will be purchasing them more often than normal. To purchase the Dean Ornish guide called “The Spectrum,” it will cost you $27.00 up front.* Depending on your needs, the diet can go from no food elimination to completely eliminating all animal by products turning it into a vegetarian diet.* This program is not for everyone, but it is clinically proven to reduce artery blockage, due to the low amount of fat that is consumed per day.

Ornish Diet Customer Reviews:

“Just kept repeating the same stuff over and over. I felt like I was in Kindergarden. No new information just rehash of his other books. Save your money!” Sterry*

Laura* said, “How can I trust a doctor who doesn’t admit that a low or better no fat diet is unhealthy, even more when studies and researches demonstrate that the countries with the lowest heart disease are France and Italy? The Mediterranean diet has a normal percentage of healthy fats, like the ones in olive oil and fish.

A Meal Plan Example:


  • 2 egg-white vegetable scrambles
  • 1/3 cup each blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
  • ½ cup non-fat milk
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread


  • 1¼-cup roasted-tomato soup
  • 2½ cups Asian noodle salad topped with 5 grilled shrimp
  • 1 slice whole-wheat peach griddlecake


  • 2/3 oz. dark chocolate,
  • 3 apricots,
  • 10 raw almonds,
  • ½ cup plain non-fat yogurt


  • 3 oz. wild salmon
  • 1¼-cup butter lettuce/pear salad with honey-infused vinaigrette
  • 1½-cup sweet corn, black bean, and tomato salad
  • 5/8-cup peach bread pudding
  • Glass of wine or sparkling water
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Do Dieters Lose Weight On The Ornish Diet?

Because this program does not eliminate foods, some will see results while others will not. They recommend you choose to eat foods in the first three food groups to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and shed unwanted pounds. The guide tries to educate the reader on the importance of nutrient dense foods, and the right foods that will fill you up like vegetables and proteins. It truly matters on your personal health conditions, and if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose.* If so, your journey will be much more difficult with the Ornish diet, as it eliminates all meat, and nearly all animal byproducts, turning the diet into a vegetarian-based diet.

Pros and Cons of Ornish Diet

  • Provides more food per calorie than other diets
  • Promotes Exercise
  • Clinically proven to reduce artery blockage

  • The reduction of 10% fat can be hard to stick with long term.
  • The more rigorous the program, the more extreme the diet gets with food eliminations.
  • The diet is very time consuming, when you have to prepare all of your meals and snacks.

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Bottom Line: Is Ornish Diet Worth a Try?

Yes, but… While this diet seems to have great motives, it may pose harder to follow than other available diet programs. As the program gets more and more rigorous depending on your diet goals, the expectations get higher and harder to follow.* While it starts off not restricting any foods, in order to see cardiovascular health improvements, you are essentially recommended to go completely vegetarian, which is not sustainable long term for many. It is an affordable option, and has seen success, but this program is definitely not for everyone. The diet promotes activity, which is always great to see, but it also demands that customers completely change their eating habits, which can be a daunting task long term.

Meal Plans
Food Recipes
Health Coaches
Phone support
Email Support
Support Group
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7.8 Total Score
Ornish Diet Scorecard

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