The Spectrum diet is the latest lifestyle and weight-loss plan created by Dean Ornish, MD, the pioneer researcher who showed that a low-fat, vegetarian diet can reverse heart disease in his past best-seller, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
The Spectrum diet has three components: nutrition, stress management, and exercise. The Spectrum is not a diet. It’s really about lowering your risk for diseases by making better food and lifestyle choices.
Group 1 is the healthiest. Foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and non-fat dairy products.
Group 2 is also primarily plant-based foods, but they have slightly more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, or healthy, fat such as avocados, seeds, nuts, and canola oil.
Group 3 includes some seafood, such as salmon and anchovies, and reduced-fat dairy.
Group 4 foods have higher fat and animal protein and fewer nutrients. These foods include poultry, whole milk and dairy products, mayonnaise, cakes, cookies, and pastries.
Group 5 is the least healthy category and includes foods that are highest in unhealthy fats such as saturated fat and trans fatty acids. The foods include hot dogs, fried food, butter, and red meat.
If you consume a lot of foods from group 5 and very few from group 1, you’ll want to make changes in what you eat. “People need to move toward group 1 as best as they can,” says Dorfman.
But the Spectrum diet is not all or nothing, says Gidus: “Ornish says to eat from groups 1 and 2 and try to eat only once in a while from groups 4 and 5.”
As an example of healthful eating, breakfast might be quinoa (a whole grain) and dried fruits. For lunch, you can start with a base of Asian noodle salad with onions, peppers, and carrots, and possibly add chicken or shrimp. A dinner recipe might be zucchini squash stuffed with soy burger, onions, and tomatoes. The Spectrum diet plan has recipes created by chef Art Smith with variations that include ingredients from the different Ornish food groups, allowing you to decide when you want to add meat to a meal for instance.
The Spectrum diet offers good nutrition. People will eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and less animal protein. It also gives you exercise guidelines.