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The Dean Ornish Diet

Also indexed as:Ornish Diet
The Dean Ornish Diet: Main Image

Why Do People Follow This Diet?

Research has shown Dr. Ornish’s Prevention and Reversal Diets can help improve health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People with heart disease who have gone on this diet have reported a reduction in the frequency of angina (chest pain due to atherosclerosis). Many people follow Dr. Ornish’s Life Choice Program because they have heard that it promotes weight loss. Despite the fact that this diet does not restrict calories, Dr. Ornish states that most people on this diet consume fewer calories than the average person residing in the United States.

What Do the Advocates Say?

Research has shown that high dietary intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat lead to elevated blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure are risk factors for heart disease. Research has shown that the low-fat, low-cholesterol Ornish diets can actually reverse coronary artery disease by lowering patients’ cholesterol levels and reducing their blood pressure. The program saves money over traditional therapies, such as angioplasty, and appears to be even more effective. New studies are showing that this type of diet may reduce the progression of certain cancers such as prostate cancer, and reduce the risk of developing cancer altogether.

What Do the Critics Say?

Dr. Ornish’s diets have been criticized by some experts for being hard for people to follow, as these diets are unlike what most Americans are used to eating. Other critics argue that Dr. Ornish’s diets are too low in fat, and do not provide a sufficient amount of essential fatty acids. The Ornish diets exclude fish, despite a significant body of research that demonstrates a protective effect of fish (and fish oil) consumption against heart disease. Dr. Ornish does recommend that dieters supplement with 3 grams per day of flaxseed oil or fish oil to provide additional omega-3 fatty acids.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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