Ornish Diet Expert Reviews

Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the Ornish diet in seven categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) Panelists found it among the most difficult of the 31 diets to follow, giving it a sub-2 in that category. But they considered it the winner in heart health, rating it at more than 4½ stars. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.

Overall Score 3.6

Short-Term Weight Loss

22 Ratings
5 Star
(1)
4 Star
(5)
3 Star
(12)
2 Star
(4)
1 Star
(0)

Score 3.1

Because dieters develop their own menus from a spectrum of choices, experts were lukewarm on short-term weight loss, handing out mostly middle-of-the-road scores. With an average score of just over 3, it lagged behind many of the other diets in this category.

Long-Term Weight Loss

22 Ratings
5 Star
(1)
4 Star
(4)
3 Star
(8)
2 Star
(8)
1 Star
(1)

Score 2.8

No diet scored higher than 3½ stars, and at slightly under 3, the Ornish diet was right in the middle. The range of expert views was notably wide, however, with one panelist giving the diet a perfect 5 (“extremely effective”) and another a 1 (“ineffective”).

Easy to Follow

22 Ratings
5 Star
(0)
4 Star
(0)
3 Star
(4)
2 Star
(13)
1 Star
(5)

Score 1.9

The Ornish diet was judged hard, with a rating of just under 2 stars. It isn’t that the diet is so complicated—the experts just don’t think most dieters can stick with meals with so little fat.

Nutrition

22 Ratings
5 Star
(4)
4 Star
(12)
3 Star
(4)
2 Star
(2)
1 Star
(0)

Score 3.8

One of its higher scores, a healthful Ornish diet mostly follows the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, according to experts, who doled out lots of 3s, 4s and 5s when evaluating its nutritional completeness.

Safety

22 Ratings
5 Star
(8)
4 Star
(11)
3 Star
(3)
2 Star
(0)
1 Star
(0)

Score 4.2

The experts considered the Ornish diet “very safe,” with a score of roughly 4 stars. A menu that emphasizes lots of produce and whole grains and cuts back on fat certainly shouldn’t do any harm.

For Diabetes

22 Ratings
5 Star
(0)
4 Star
(13)
3 Star
(7)
2 Star
(2)
1 Star
(0)

Score 3.5

Our experts applauded the diet as a way to prevent or control diabetes, giving it the second-highest rating in this category.

For Heart Health

22 Ratings
5 Star
(14)
4 Star
(7)
3 Star
(1)
2 Star
(0)
1 Star
(0)

Score 4.6

Dieters will do their heart a favor, experts said, by following a healthful Ornish diet—in particular the version of the plan expressly developed to reverse heart disease. At better than 4½ stars, experts were more than pleased with the plan.



Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | December 12, 2013

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