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Ornish Diet

By Editorial Team (Y)
May 20, 2022


Heart diseases become more common each year. Therefore, currently, people try to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease development. The Ornish diet is a heart-healthy eating pattern. This diet plan restricts dietary fat to less than 10% of the daily calorie intake. In addition, it promotes eating fat only from plant sources. Overall, the Ornish diet is a very low-fat, lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet.
Changing your eating pattern to the Ornish diet can contribute to reversing the progression of chronic conditions, including prostate cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Also, this diet promotes weight loss.

Key points

The Ornish diet is flexible and easy to follow because you do not need to track calories or nutrient intake. This diet does not restrict any foods except animal products. You cannot eat meat, poultry, and fish following the Ornish diet. In addition, high-fat foods, including seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils, are permitted only in limited amounts. It is also allowed to consume up to two daily servings of eggs or non-fat dairy products like milk and yogurt. Also, you should limit the intake of caffeinated beverages, refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, and low-fat packaged foods.
In the Ornish Diet, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and soy products should make up the majority of your meals.
To optimize the results of the Ornish diet, it is also important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, along with changing your eating pattern.


There are no contraindications for this diet pattern.

How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies

The Ornish diet restricts the intake of animal foods, so it can lead to calcium, vitamin B12 (riboflavin), zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Therefore, you should pay attention to the listed nutrients to avoid nutrient and mineral deficiency.

  • Vitamin B-12: clams, fortified cereals, tuna, fortified nutritional yeasts, fortified non-dairy milk, nonfat milk, or yogurt.
  • Calcium: winter squash, nonfat milk or yogurt, tofu, edamame, leafy greens, and almonds.
  • Zinc: shellfish, legumes, seeds, almonds, nonfat dairy, whole grains, potato, kale, green beans.
  • Iron: shellfish, spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli, tofu, canned tuna. 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: halibut, tilapia, sole, cod, oysters, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans. 

You may consider taking the low-dose multivitamin, mineral supplements, and fish oil to provide your body with an adequate amount of nutrients.

Tips on improving dieting experience

  • Substitute refined carbohydrates like white bread for whole grains like whole-grain bread and quinoa spaghetti.
  • Make the shopping list and plan your meals ahead.
  • Substitute full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free dairy.
  • Start your morning routine with meditation or another stress-management technique. 


The Ornish diet is a heart-healthy, low-fat lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet that promotes health benefits. However, this diet restricts some healthy fats and can increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies. The Ornish diet requires planning, time, and nutritional knowledge. Therefore, to avoid negative health effects, be sure to plan the Ornish Diet carefully if you want to try it.

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