daily dozen

Take a moment to think about what you eat on a typical day. Do you eat nuts every day? What about fruit? Beans? I am here to tell you about the 12 things you should be aiming to consume every single day. With these foods in mind, the next time you meal plan or browse Pinterest for new recipe ideas try and challenge yourself to check off as many of these as possible! I was inspired to write this post because of Dr. Greger's book "How Not to Die" and his recommendation of the "Daily Dozen".

The Daily Dozen
1. Beans
2. Berries
3. Other Fruits
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
5. Greens
6. Other Vegetables
7. Flaxseed
8. Nuts
9. Spices
10. Whole Grains
11. Healthy Beverages
12. Exercise
 The Details
Beans (and legumes)
Servings: 3
Examples of what to eat: black beans, hummus, lentils, split peas, edamame, pinto beans, tempeh, tofu
Why? Beans are an excellent source of plant based protein, and they are also loaded with iron, fiber, and zinc! Plus, beans/legumes are very versatile and easy to incorporate into different meals.

Servings: 1
Examples of what to eat: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, cherries, concord grapes

Why? Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which are great for reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. I personally love adding either frozen or fresh berries to my oatmeal everyday, and I easily can check off my serving first thing in the morning!

Other Fruits
Servings: 3
Examples of what to eat: apples, clementines, lemon, avocado, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, bananas

Why? Fruit is a great source of fiber. Did you know that when you juice fruit you are striping away all of the fiber? Therefore it is best to eat the whole fruit when possible :) Fruits are also full of different vitamins and minerals and different fruits can help boost immunity or make a positive impact on different diseases/illnesses.

Cruciferous Vegetables
Servings: 1
Examples of what to eat: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, brussel sprouts

Why? There is something called sulforaphane that is found in cruciferous vegetables, this compound can help protect your brain, eyesight, reduce inflammation, and more. This specific category of vegetables is also loaded with vitamin A, C,  K, folate, fiber, and phytonutrients which can help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

Servings: 2
Examples of what to eat: spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens, swiss chard, red leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce

Why? Eating greens daily is associated with a strong protection against developing certain chronic illnesses, and can reduces ones risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Greens also have a variety of vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, vitamin C, B, K, magnesium, and calcium.

Other Vegetables
Servings: 2
Examples of what to eat: bell pepper, carrots, corn, potatoes, zucchini, snap peas, squash, mushrooms
Why? Have you heard the phrase, "eat the rainbow?" Fruits and vegetables come in a variety of colors, and it is for good reason! Orange vegetables for example contain beta-carotene which our bodies convert to vitamin A, and vitamin A is great for healthy skin, strong eye health, and immunity. Red vegetables typically contain high levels of antioxidants which we know are good for cardiovascular health and disease prevention. Green vegetables give our bodies tons of nutrients from vitamins and minerals. Yellow vegetables are good for skin health, boost immunity, and helps to lower bad cholesterol. Try and eat as many colors as you can, your body will thank you!

Servings: 1
Examples of what to eat: not any options here 😜 flaxseeds!

Why? Flaxseeds are incredibly healthy as they are considered a great source of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your brain health and heart health. Flaxseeds are also a good source of lingan, which can help lower your risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. These little seeds are also high in fiber, and protein. Try buying ground flaxseed (or whole seeds and grind them yourself) and add a tablespoon to things like oatmeal, salads, baked goods, or smoothies.

Nuts and Seeds
Servings: 1
Examples of what to eat: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

Why? Different nuts and seeds provide different health benefits. Walnuts for example are great for your brain health, and they are good for prostate health in men. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, and high in protein. Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of zinc, which is good for your immunity, metabolism, and has skin healing properties. Brazil nuts contain a selenium which is good for thyroid health, heart health, and mental health. 

Herbs and Spices
Servings: 1
Examples of what to eat: chili powder, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, cumin, pepper, curry, garlic

Why? Not only do spices really jazz up and dish or recipe you are making, but they also carry a variety of health benefits. Turmeric for example is a great anti-inflammatory, and is good for the health of your brain, lungs, skin, colon, and GI tract. Cinnamon is also considered an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it can help regulate your blood sugar.
Whole Grains
Servings: 3
 Examples of what to eat: oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat, barley
Why? Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which is important for our bowel health, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar. Whole grains also help to lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and obesity.  When buying whole grains, try and follow the "Five to One rule" meaning that the ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of fiber is 5 or less. Many companies will throw "health" words on their packaging and try and trick the consumer into thinking they are buying the healthiest option, so beware. Here is an example of what the "Five to One rule" looks like.
Image one- Carbs 15g and Fiber 3g. 15 / 3 =  5 so that is good!
Image two- Carbs 37g and Fiber 2g. 37 / 2 = 18.5, which is obviously way over 5.
Don't stress over this too much, just by making the switch to whole grains vs. white bread or cereals is great! Health is a journey and you aren't expected to dive in 100% to begin with.

Healthy Beverages
Servings: 5
Examples of what to drink: water, black tea, green tea, coffee, matcha, peppermint tea, oolong tea

Why? Hydration is key for feeling great! The key to choosing a healthy beverage is by avoiding drinks that are loaded with sugar. If you find yourself having a hard time drinking enough water, try adding lemon, or other fresh fruit to it. You can also opt for sparkling water, as long as there are no added sugars or ingredients. Studies have shown that people who are dehydrated are more likely to struggle cognitively, feel sluggish and fatigued, and it can also negatively affect your mood. Teas have a variety of health benefits too. Green tea for example is high in antioxidants, and black tea may lower blood sugar levels, and help to reduce blood pressure.

Goal: 30 minutes daily 
Examples of what you can do: brisk walk, weight training, yoga, swimming, biking

Why? Exercise is good for your physical, emotional, and mental health. It is also a great way to take care of your cardiovascular health! As I mentioned in my last blog post, sweating is actually a very beneficial response that our bodies have to exercise, as it helps to flush out bad toxins such as a cold or other illness. How many times have you finished a walk, or left a workout class unhappy that you did it? Probably not many! Our bodies and minds need us to stay active, even if its "just" 30 minutes a day!

I thought it would be fun to close out this blog post with an example of how a day can look completing the daily dozen checklist. I know it is maybe not practical to complete this seven days a week (I know I don't), but I think as you become more familiar with this concept you will find yourself naturally incorporating these things into your daily routine!

-Oatmeal with blueberries, peanut butter, and cinnamon
(1/3 serving of whole grains, 1/1 berries, 1/1 serving of nuts, 1/1 serving of spices)
-Lemon water 
(1/5 serving of healthy beverage, 1/3 serving of fruit)

-Smoothie with frozen spinach, banana, frozen mango, ground flaxseed, and coconut water
(1/2 greens, 3/3 fruit, 1/1 flaxseed, 2/5 healthy beverage)

-Veggies sandwich on toasted whole grain bread, with mashed cannellini beans, cucumber, bell pepper, and romaine lettuce
(2/3 whole grains, 1/3 beans, 2/2 other vegetables, 2/2 greens, 3/5 healthy beverage)
-Hummus with whole grain crackers or rice cakes and a cup of green tea
(2/3 beans, 3/3 whole grains, 4/5 healthy beverage)
-Protein of your choice, steamed broccoli, and red lentils
-Sparking water
(1/1 cruciferous vegetable, 3/3 beans/legumes, 5/5 healthy beverage)

After dinner snack:
-Plain popcorn lightly salted
(3/3 whole grains)
And you can either start of finish your day with a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood!

Boom. If you want help keeping track of your daily dozen go ahead and download the app Daily Dozen, it looks like a big green check mark! Like I said, I don't follow this daily but it is something I want to get better at. It is fun to be mindful of what you are eating, and to challenge yourself into checking off all the boxes. I should also mention that these aren't the ONLY things you should be consuming, and the example I gave is a plant-based one. But if you prefer meat, fish, dairy, etc. then be sure to eat those in addition to the foods recommended in the Daily Dozen!

I would love to know what you think of this concept, and how YOU complete your checklist. 



Photo by K15 Photos on Unsplash

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