The Daily Dozen is an eating plan that maximises the consumption of fruit, veg, beans, wholegrains and nuts, and minimises the intake of meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods.
Originally published in a book called How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger, the diet might not make you immortal, but evidence suggests it could help ward off a whole swathe of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
With blueberries doubling the number of cells in your body that fight cancer and viruses, flaxseed lowering blood pressure, and a high-fibre diet resulting in decreased odds of developing certain breast cancers – research shows a wholefood, plant-based diet can reduce the risk of disease.
This list puts all the data together to give you the healthiest of foods to eat every day. You can download the Daily Dozen app to help you keep track of how you’re doing.
The Daily Dozen checklist
1. Three servings of beans such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, houmous (weight: 130g cooked beans, 60g houmous). Packed with fibre, folate and phytates, beans may help reduce the risk of stroke, depression and colon cancer.
2. A serving of berries such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (weight: 60g fresh, 40g dried). Their antioxidant qualities may protect against cancer, boost the immune system, and reduce cognitive decline.
3. Three servings of other fruits including avocado (weight: 1 medium fruit, 40g dried). These are a fantastic source of fibre and packed full of vitamins.
4. A serving of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, rocket, cauliflower (weight: 3-80g chopped). Cruciferous veg contain a promising anticancer agent, sulforaphane, which may also help protect your brain and eyesight, and manage type 2 diabetes.
5. Two servings of greens eg, leafy greens, salad (weight: 60g raw, 90g cooked). Greens have cancer-fighting properties, reduce the risk of glaucoma and may help prevent strokes and heart disease.
6. Two servings of other vegetables eg, non-leafy veg (weight: 50g). They’re a fantastic source of fibre and packed full of vitamins and nutrients.
7. One serving of flaxseeds 1 tbsp ground. Flaxseeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, helpful against breast and prostate cancers, controlling cholesterol and lowering high blood pressure.
8. One serving of nuts and seeds (weight: 30g nuts, 2 tbsp nut butter). Brazil nuts may lower cholesterol, walnuts have the highest antioxidant properties, and high-phytate foods, such as seeds, play a role in better bone density.
9. 40 mins of vigorous exercise including doing house work, walking, yoga, swimming (time: 90 mins moderate. This Maintains healthy body weight, boosts immune system, helps prevent high blood pressure and improves sleep.
10. One serving of herbs and spices ¼ tsp turmeric or other. Turmeric reduces inflammation, and other herbs and spices can improve chronic health issues, such as cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
11. Three servings of whole grains such as oats, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, quinoa, bread (weight: 100g cereal, 1 slice of bread). They appear to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke.
12. Beverages water, green tea, herbal tea (1,750ml per day, or 5 large glasses). Not drinking enough is associated with heart disease, lung disorder, kidney disease, UTIs and decreased immune function.
Can you really eat that much?
OK, we admit this seems like a lot to pack into one day, so here are some easy ways to include them in your diet…
– Add berries, flaxseed and nuts to your morning porridge.
– Sprinkle flaxseed, nuts and other seeds on salads and soups.
– Making a chilli? Add two or three kinds of beans instead of just one.
– Add an extra portion of veg or greens to your lunch or dinner.
– Snack on fruit, nuts and crudités with houmous.
If you just eat all the foods on the list, you will feel full, but you’ll average at around 1,250-1,500 calories a day, a whole 500 calories less than people normally eat.
Those on a plant-based diet need to take a B12 supplement (found mainly in animal products), as it’s vital for healthy nerve tissue, brain function and the production of red blood cells. It’s recommended you take 50mcg per day, or a once-weekly dose of 2,000mcg.
Always speak to your doctor before making any drastic diet changes, especially if you are taking medication to lower cholesterol or high blood pressure, or to control diabetes.
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