The Ornish Diet

The Ornish diet was created by Dr Dean Ornish, a cardiologist who claims that the build up of fat in the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks, is preventable and can be reversed by following his programme.

In addition to the food plan the diet also covers topics on anger management, exercise, meditation, relaxation exercises, and stopping smoking to provide a complete lifestyle overhaul.

Type - Low Fat Diet

Are special products required - No

Is eating out possible? - Yes

Is the plan family friendly? - No

Do you have to buy a book? - Yes

Is the diet easy to maintain? - No

So how does it work?...

The Ornish Diet works on the simple principle that if you practically remove fat from your diet, you can take in less calories without reducing the amount you eat over the course of the day.

It's principally a plant based diet that excludes all cooking oils and animal products, except low fat yogurt and skimmed milk but it does also ban any plant foods that are high in fat, such as olives, seeds, nuts and advocados.

The daily limits consist of less than 10% of total calories from fat per day.

The diet plans are high in fibre and allow a moderate use of salt, sugar and alcohol.

Although the Ornish Diet does not restrict total calories consumed, it's fairly common knowledge that when you eat less fat you tend to eat fewer calories anyway.

The Diet Plan...

Three meals and one or two snacks per day are allowed, on mostly fat-free foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains. These foods can be eaten at any time of the day, in fairly unrestricted quantities.

Fat free products and egg whites are allowed in moderation, as are certain low fat products such as yogurts.

The diet also encourages snacking throughout the day and lists a number of ideas for healthy snacks.

It claims that by doing this, you will maintain your energy levels better than having three large meals at long intervals and because you are taking in high fibre fruits, vegetables, grains and pulses you will lower your cholesterol and insulin levels which will in turn contribute to weight loss.

Is it good for you?...

Research shows that the low-fat, low-cholesterol Ornish Diet can reverse cardiovascular disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure.

The diet excludes fish and oil, despite recent evidence that fish oil and olive oil provide protection against cardiovascular disease so some critics argue that it doesn't provide sufficient amounts of essential fatty acids to the body.

Dr Ornish's patients were also treated in a spa-like environment where all of the meals were prepared by chefs so for people trying to follow the diet at home, the plan may be slightly more difficult to maintain.

Example Day...

• Glass of orange juice
• Bowl of cereal with fresh berries and low fat plain yogurt

• Cubes of firm tofu with cooked broccoli florets, potatoes and chickpeas
• Garlic bread
• Green salad
• Apple

• Bruschetta with sun-dried tomatoes and capers
• Pasta shapes tossed with red peppers, greens such as spinach, cannellini beans, a little chopped garlic and grated lemon zest
• Grilled asparagus dressed with lemon and caper vinaigrette, and freshly ground black pepper
• Green salad
• Peaches poached in red wine

• 1-2 snacks of fresh fruit or raw vegetables

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