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  • Writer's picturedrwendyross

Your lifesaving Daily Dozen

Raise your hand if you've heard the term "daily dozen".

Did you know "Daily Dozen" is from Dr Michael Greger’s book: How Not to Die.

He is an amazing physician who, as I have done, started educating himself on what really healthy eating looks like. Of course, with all the information available it was quite a task. His family, again, like mine, had to go through every step with him. Every time I made a new discovery about a food that the industry is promoting as healthy it would lead to frustration and the refrain, “What can’t we eat now?” or, “Why do we have to have spinach in everything now?”

Following a whole-food, plant-based diet provides incredible health benefits, reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer amongst other diseases. Trials have shown that going completely plant- based with no added oils in your diet can somewhat reverse blockages in your coronary arteries. Many people with type 2 diabetes have been able to get rid of most of their medications, and in some cases, all of their medications, simply by changing to a whole-food, plant-based life.

So how to do this? Remember not all plant foods are created equal. It is possible to call yourself a vegan (although I prefer not to use this word due to the many negative connotations surrounding it) and eat Oreo cookies, potato chips and candy all day long. Of course this is not a healthy way of eating.

When people tell you to eat the rainbow, this can also be confusing. Dr Greger’s research led him to the conclusion that there are specific types of foods, which although they are all good choices, are not actually interchangeable in terms of specific health benefits.

For example, sulforaphane, a liver-enzyme detox-boosting compound is found almost solely in cruciferous vegetables. Even if you have eaten lots of other greens on that day you could still have missed out on the benefits of sulforaphanes. The same is true for flaxseeds and the anticancer lignan compounds. Mushrooms, technically, are not plants and may contain nutrients that are not available from any other foods.

After much research, Dr Greger drew up a list called the Daily Dozen. He has made this available as a free app which gives details about serving sizes and what fits into each group. For families with smart phones it can be fun to check the lists each day and make a game of getting their daily nutrition needs fulfilled.

For those of you who prefer old-fashioned reading the Daily Dozen comprises beans, berries, other fruits, cruciferous vegetables, greens, other vegetables, flaxseeds, nuts, spices, whole grains, beverages and exercise. If you have no interest in cutting out animal products from your diet, just following this list will ensure you are still getting loads of useful disease fighting plant-based compounds.

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