Best diet for heart-health

An expert panel of 25 nutritionists, physicians and dietitians have rated the little-known Ornish diet the best for heart health.

The diet, created by Dr Dean Ornish – a professor of medicine at the University of California – in 1977, is low in refined carbohydrates, animal protein and fat.

According to Dr. Ornish, just changing your diet promotes weight loss and can even reverse the progression of chronic conditions such as prostate cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The diet
The Ornish diet is a simple, plant-based, low-fat diet that limits processed foods, refined carbohydrates and animal products.

Nutrient-rich foods such as wholegrains, legumes, soy foods, fruits and vegetables are the main components of the diet. Natural fats found predominantly in wholegrains, legumes and whole foods should comprise approximately 10 per cent of total daily calorie intake.

While no foods are banned altogether, vegetable oils, meat including fish and chicken, and nuts and seeds that are high in fat, are to be kept to a minimum. Other foods and drinks such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol and low-fat packaged food should also be limited.

Two daily servings of non-fat dairy products such as yoghurt or milk are allowed. Up to three servings of nuts or seeds are also allowed daily, although the recommended serving size is less than three grams of fat.

In addition, it is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. The diet also encourages people to cultivate healthy relationships, exercise and manage stress.

The benefits
Some studies have suggested that the Ornish diet may be linked to a lower risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. In one study, the diet was shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease such as inflammation, cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Other research shows that vegan and vegetarian diets may also lower your risk of breast, prostate, stomach and colorectal cancers.

This diet is easy to follow, as no foods are strictly off limits and no complicated calorie counting is required. The broad range of the diet may make it easier to follow, increasing the long-term health benefits.

However, the same expert panel also voted the Mediterranean diet as the best for diabetes, ease, healthy eating and the best overall diet. This alternative diet includes oil-rich fish, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and olive oil.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Liv Gardiner

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