The Pritikin program is a combination of diet and exercise aimed at eliminating many of the degenerative diseases such as narrow coronary arteries, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and even some forms of cancer. The diet is low in fats, cholesterol, protein (especially animal protein) and simple carbohydrates (sugars). It is high in complex carbohydrates (starches) and dietary fibre, and is basically natural foods eaten raw or not overcooked. There is no added salt, no added sugar, no alcohol and no smoking. It is not a vegetarian diet, but the lean meat, chicken and fish intake is reduced considerably.
There are essentially two versions of the diet. The regression diet (RD) is aimed at bringing cholesterol levels to below 3.8 mmol/L. At this level the blocking of arteries (artherosclerosis) is slowly reversed and the removal of cholesterol deposits begins. The maintenance diet (MD) is aimed at keeping cholesterol levels at 4.0 mmol/L to arrest further blocking of the artery walls.
Both the regression and maintenance diets follow the same principles. The regression diet simply means adding to the limitations imposed by the standard or maintenance diet.
The Pritikin diet excludes all fats and oils, such as butter, margarine, shortening, lard, meat fat, cold pressed oil, vegetable oils, etc.; all extracted sugars, including syrups, molasses, fructose, dextrose, sucrose and honey; and added salt, either sodium or potassium.