Benefits of the Ornish Diet, a Heart Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Benefits of the Ornish Diet, a Heart Healthy Vegetarian Diet — Benefits of the Ornish Diet, a Heart Healthy Vegetarian Diet. The Ornish diet is believed to be a healthy diet that is not only able to lose weight, but also protects the body from the risk of disease. This diet is believed to inhibit the development of chronic diseases and make you healthier than before.

What makes the Ornish diet so great and how is it done? Here’s the answer.

What is the Ornish diet?

The Ornish diet is a diet promoted by Dean Ornish, a doctor and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California, USA. Doctor Ornish believes that dietary changes can reduce weight and prevent many diseases.

This diet is actually based on the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which is a vegetarian diet that allows you to eat eggs and dairy products. Even so, your daily menu will still be dominated by plant-based foods.

It is believed to be able to slow down aging in cells and activate certain genes that make the body healthier. Since most of the foods in this diet are good for the heart, you are also better protected from the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Although beneficial, the Ornish diet may be difficult for people who don’t like to eat vegetables and fruit. You also need to avoid animal foods and should limit the consumption of some fatty foods that are actually healthy.

How it works and the rules of the Ornish diet

The Ornish diet focuses on a low-fat, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. There is no calorie counting or restrictions on certain types of food, except animal protein. However, how strict this diet is will depend on your goals.

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If you are a heart patient who wants to prevent disease progression, your diet will be stricter. You should follow a vegetarian diet and only eat low-fat foods. Meanwhile, if your diet goal is to live a healthy life, lose weight, and prevent disease, your diet can be more flexible.

You can eat some animal protein as well as healthy fats from nuts and avocados. Overall, here are the things you need to pay attention to when implementing the Ornish diet.

1. Recommended food

The main principle of the Ornish diet is vegetarian. So, you need to eat more fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates such as oats and brown rice. Don’t forget to include vegetable protein sources such as legumes (peas and the like).

2. Foods that you can eat occasionally

In the diet for disease prevention, you can consume nonfat milk, fish, nuts, seeds, and caffeinated drinks. From time to time, you can also use canola oil, olive oil, and sesame oil for cooking.

3. Foods you should avoid

The main taboo in the Ornish diet is high-fat animal products, especially red meat, chicken, full-fat milk, and egg yolks. Also avoid processed foods that contain saturated fat and refined sugar, such as junk food.

4. Exercising

Diet results will be more optimal when coupled with exercise. Therefore, do not forget to exercise regularly at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can also exercise 60 minutes a day 3 days a week.

5. Manage stress and stay away from unhealthy habits Stress and unhealthy habits can interfere with the success of your diet.

Try to manage your stress by doing activities that you enjoy. Make sure you also stay away from unhealthy habits like smoking and staying up late.

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The advantages and disadvantages of the Ornish diet

Interested in following the Ornish diet? Here are the advantages and disadvantages for your consideration.


The Ornish diet indirectly makes you eat more high-fiber foods, especially fruits and vegetables. According to a study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, fiber consumption is important for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fiber works in several ways, including reducing cholesterol levels, maintaining blood pressure, and improving insulin function. Fiber also binds to bad cholesterol in the intestines and gets rid of it before it can be absorbed by the body.

When on this diet, you also reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates that are behind many diseases. High-sugar foods usually increase your calorie intake, but don’t compensate for it with beneficial nutrients.

In the long term, you can lose weight and maintain a healthy heart. Some experts even mention that this diet may be able to help reduce the severity of disease in heart disease patients.


However, the Ornish diet also has a number of drawbacks. Since you have to cut down on foods that contain fat, many have a hard time sticking to it consistently until the end. This diet also limits the consumption of nuts and seeds, even though both are sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

One of the benefits of omega-3 is to maintain heart health and prevent diseases related to this organ. Ornish dieters also have to be smart about managing the daily menu. Otherwise, your daily menu will likely be very low in calories, iron, and vitamin B12.

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Without all three, the body will be vulnerable to lack of energy so that you become easily weak. If this is your first time trying a diet, try consulting your doctor or nutritionist first. Children, teenagers, and pregnant women should not do this diet because the intake of fat, iron, and vitamin B12 is very low.

Sample menu for a day

You will eat a variety of staple foods, fruit, vegetables, and protein sources while following the Ornish diet.

The following is an example of a menu for a day that you can follow:

  • Breakfast: boiled egg whites, stir-fried long beans, baked potatoes and apples.
  • Snack: bananas, nonfat yogurt, and some cashews.
  • Lunch: brown rice with stir-fried broccoli and mushrooms.
  • Snack: boiled baby carrots, whole wheat bread, and low-fat milk.
  • Dinner: brown rice with scrambled tofu, spicy-sweet tempeh orek, and pineapple.

The Ornish diet is a vegetarian lacto-ovo-based diet that is very beneficial for the heart. However, this diet is also very low in fat and may lack certain vitamins or minerals. So, before trying it, make sure you have planned the types of food that you will consume daily. That way, you can get the benefits and avoid the risk of side effects.

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