Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Clean Eating Diet

The 12 Nutrients You Need in Your Diet Daily

Maintain good health with these powerful additions to your clean diet.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Woman drinking cocoa

1. The Nutrient: Cocoa 

Hot chocolate on a brisk January day? You bet. A new study from Brigham Young University reveals that certain compounds found in cocoa can help combat diabetes. These compounds, called epicatechin monomers, help cells secrete insulin and manage blood sugar. Skip sugar-loaded stuff, however, and reach for dark varieties rich in cocoa.

See Also Your Brain on Chocolate

2. The Nutrient: Plant-Based Protein

Help the planet by eating more plant-based protein, which has been shown to be effective in maintaining muscle as you age (according to a study published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society). Aim to swap in whole grains, non-GMO soy and beans for animal-based protein sources occasionally (while still enjoying lean meats in moderation).

3. The Nutrient: Quercetin 

Boosting immunity and reducing inflammation during the cold and flu season could be as easy as supplementing with quercetin or eating quercetin-rich foods such as leafy greens, dark cherries, berries and tomatoes. Scientific studies, including a 2016 Nutrients study, show that quercetin is an anti-inflammatory agent. For supplementation, the common dosage is 500 milligrams twice per day.

4. The Nutrient: Probiotics

Scientists have been debating the effectiveness of probiotics for years given that trials until recently have been small and limited, but with a new large study from India, there’s now evidence to support taking the right microbes. As published in August 2017 in Nature, probiotics such as Lactobacillus plantarum (ATCC 202195 strain) taken in conjunction with the prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS) can help prevent sepsis among newborn babies. Other studies show that adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders may benefit from specific probiotic strains, including ones in the Bifidobacterium family.

See Also 5 Ways to Eat & Drink Your Probiotics

5. The Nutrient: Branched chain amino acids

Chances are that more exercise is on your New Year’s resolution list, and chances are better for post-workout recovery with branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), report researchers in Nutrition. Find them in such products as Swanson Premium Branched Chain Amino Acids ($10, for increasing muscle power and decreasing protein breakdown after exercise.

6. The Nutrient: Lycopene 

Could protecting your huevos be as simple as enjoying more tomatoes in your huevos rancheros? Yes. While further research in humans is needed, a study published in September 2017 in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that lycopene, a nutrient in tomatoes, can help improve the health of ovarian tissue in rats.

7. The Nutrient: Lithium 

This mood-stabilizing treatment prescribed for people with bipolar disorder may help the general population stave off the blues, too. Try eating foods that naturally contain lithium, such as whole grains and vegetables.

8. The Nutrient: Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is as important as ever, reveals a new study in the August 2017 issue of Journal of Nutrition. Researchers recently found that supplementing with vitamin D can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and prediabetes.

See Also 5 Reasons to Take Vitamin D

9. The Nutrient: Choline

Stave off metabolic disease by ensuring you get enough choline, which is essential for maintaining the healthy levels of gut bacteria to keep such conditions at bay. Researchers reveal in a Cell Host & Microbe report that mice with lower levels of choline were more likely to get metabolic disease from a high-fat diet. The adequate intake of choline established by the National Institutes of Health is 425 milligrams per day for females and 550 milligrams per day for males.

Spinach and Cauli Rice Salad with Cashew Dressing recipe
Photo by Beata Lubas

10. The Nutrient: Potassium 

Bananas, beans, spinach and avocados: add them all to your weekly menu for the year ahead if they’re not already a part of the plan. That’s because these potassium-rich foods can help lower blood pressure, a review article published in April 2017 in American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism found.

11. The Nutrient: Dairy-Derived Calcium

On the other hand, if you enjoy dairy, continue to keep it stocked in the fridge, as consuming more milk and dairy products is linked to a lower risk of diabetes. The findings were published in 2016 in the journal Circulation.


12. The Nutrient: Fiber 

Make a plan to consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. That’s the amount that can help contribute to a healthy weight, according to the American Heart Association. Lean toward lentils and black beans, which each have at least 15 grams of fiber in a one-cup serving.