U.S. News & World Report:Ornish Diet Rated #1 Heart-Healthy Diet for the Sixth Year
by Ornish Living Team
We appreciate that the U.S. News and World Reports ranking of the top 38 diets has put the Ornish Program at #1 for heart health for 6 years in a row! A panel of health experts, nutritionists and doctors chose the best diets based their ease to follow, nutritiousness, safety, effectiveness for weight loss, and whether or not they protected against diabetes and heart disease.
U.S. News and World Reports called the Ornish program “safe and tremendously heart healthy.”
In an interview about the ranking on NPR.org, Dr. Ornish has emphasized the realities of trendy diets like Paleo and Atkins that have become so popular in recent years.
And when it comes to paleo, or the caveman diet, the verdict is that eating the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors did is not very realistic. One expert concluded that “a true paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants.” But the problem, according to the report, is that it’s too difficult to follow in modern times. The experts say that in avoiding dairy, grains and other mainstays of the modern diet, paleo followers may miss out on key nutrients. And, the panel concludes, “if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems.” Then there’s the raw food diet, which calls for a plant-heavy diet of unprocessed, largely uncooked foods. The experts conclude that it’s effective for weight loss, but they say it’s “impossible to follow and its nutritional completeness and safety were concerns.” They point out that while most adherents are vegan, some choose to eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, milk or eggs. And since the diet is very restrictive, they point out that it’s not appropriate for children, since some restrictive diets have been linked to growth problems. Similarly, Atkins, which is the low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diet — think steak without the potatoes — was given a low ranking (32nd out of 34), due to poor marks for long-term weight loss, safety and heart health. Many people on Atkins go heavy on meats, which can raise LDL cholesterol, the unhealthy cholesterol.
The Ornish Program consists of a four equally-weighted lifestyle elements, including a plant-based way of eating, yoga and meditation for stress management, exercise, and group support — which U.S. News and World Reports called “safe and tremendously heart healthy” Dr. Ornish also defends the criticism that the diet is difficult to follow because of the extreme fat restriction.
This is the most common misconception about my work. We have data from thousands of patients [who have participated in the program], and we’re finding we’re getting 85 percent to 90 percent adherence after one year. The idea that it’s too hard to change diet is not true.
Dr. Ornish goes on to say, “When we become more aware of how powerfully our choices in diet and lifestyle affect us—for better and for worse—then we can make different ones. When you make healthy choices, you feel better quickly. This allows us to connect the dots between what we do and how we feel. Feeling so much better, so quickly, re-frames the reason for changing from fear of dying to joy of living.”