Dr Michael Greger, expert in whole-food, plant-based nutrition and author of How Not To Die, swears by his Daily Dozen – the things he eats, drinks and does every day to help him live a longer, healthier life.
Here we take a look at the 12 things you should be including in your daily diet and routine to optimise your health – no more fad diets or food trends, just a healthy plant-based lifestyle.
Beans really are a wonder food, providing an excellent source of protein, as well as the nutrients from the vegetable kingdom, and they help to reduce the chance of developing cancer. Black beans, kidney beans, peas and lentils are just some of the beans you should try to include every day. Dr Greger suggests three servings of beans a day, so why not try beans on toast for breakfast, a three-bean salad for lunch, or make a delicious bean chilli for dinner?
Berries make a delicious summer breakfast treat when added to your cereal, and just one serving a day can help boost your immune system against those nasty summer colds. Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are readily available fresh or frozen, but why not try some lesser-known varieties such as the gooseberry or barberry?
We’ve all heard that an apple a day will keep the doctor away, but did you know that three servings of fruit a day can help reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes? Make a fruit salad for desert and throw in a selection from bananas and kiwi fruit to the more exotic papaya and passion fruit.
Love them or hate them, brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, a potential anticancer agent that helps to keep your brain and eyesight healthy. Thankfully for sprout-haters, sulforaphane is also found in broccoli, cauliflower and watercress, and one serving each day is all you need.
Your mum was right when she told you to eat your greens, because dark-green, leafy vegetables offer the most nutrition per calorie of all whole foods. Top your pasta with a handful of rocket, make a leafy green salad or add a side of spinach to your dinner, but make sure you’re getting two servings per day to get the full benefits.
You’re undoubtedly already aware of the health benefits of eating a wide variety of veggies, but researchers have also found there could be beauty benefits too. Women who regularly ate more green and yellow coloured vegetables were found to have less facial wrinkling, so put down that expensive eye cream and pick up some vegetable crudités.
Flaxseeds (or linseeds)
Just a tablespoon of flaxseeds a day can help to prevent against high blood pressure and various types of cancer. Add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds to a smoothie, or make your own flax seed crackers.
Nuts and seeds
Not only has eating a handful of nuts at least five times a week been found to extend your life span by an extra two years, nuts have can also help you burn more fat by giving your metabolism a boost. So why not put down the biscuits and reach for the nuts instead when that mid-afternoon slump hits in the office? Walnuts have been proven to have the most health benefits.
Herbs and spices
Various herbs and spices, including fenugreek, coriander and ginger have many health benefits, but the one spice you should make sure that you’re including in your daily diet is turmeric. There’s been a lot of talk about turmeric as a superfood in the last few years, and in this case the hype is justified, with the spice being shown to help prevent cancer and treat inflammatory conditions. A quarter of a teaspoon per day is all you need.
Possibly the best dietary advice we’ve heard in quite some time, bread and pasta are actively good for us! Three servings of whole grains a day, including whole wheat bread and pasta, can help to reduce the risk of a whole host of conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
We all know that drinking plenty of water keeps us hydrated and our skin glowing, but a high intake of water could also help to reduce bladder cancer and heart disease. Dr Greger suggests five glasses of water per day, but tea and coffee can also have various health benefits.
Switch off Netflix and get active, because regular exercise has been proven to improve your mood, the quality of sleep and to ward off cognitive decline. 90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as dancing, yoga or gardening, or 40 minutes of vigorous activity such as squash, rugby, swimming laps or step aerobics is what you should be aiming for, but every little helps.