With the hot summer weather arriving soon, a cool crisp salad can be the basis for a light and refreshing meal.
They’re easy to make at home and to order in a restaurant when dining out. And, with their multiple health benefits, consuming a serving of leafy greens each day can be one of the best habits to get into, summer or winter.
To get the most nutritional impact from your salads, let’s look at some of their benefits, what ingredients add extra dietary punch, and what to avoid to ensure that your dish stays nutritious and healthful.
A SALAD A DAY KEEPS DISEASE AND AGING AT BAY
Aside from their natural good taste and great crunchy texture alongside wonderful colors and fragrances, eating a large serving of fresh, raw vegetables each day can have significant health benefits.
It makes a substantial contribution to disease prevention, healthy weight and youthful energy – and who isn’t interested in a bit more energy and vitality?
And they are easy to make, especially if you have some tools and utensils on hand that can assist with preparing the diet of a raw food aficionado.
A FitBowl can make a trendy salad out of any firm vegetable, and is a must have for any raw foodist.
Here are nine of those benefits so easily available to us:
1. A NATURAL SOURCE OF FIBER
Your leafy greens and raw veggies are a superb source of natural fiber, and consuming enough fiber each day has several health advantages:
- Fiber helps to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
- It helps to control blood sugar.
- Adequate fiber intake helps with weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
- It normalizes bowel movements, and aids in the prevention of bowel disease.
- Proper fiber intake has been shown to reduce the recurrence and prevention of a number of cancers including colorectal, breast, mouth, throat and esophagus (1).
2. NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
The idea that fresh vegetables and fruits are essential to our good health and well-being isn’t anything we haven’t heard before, but it’s good to be reminded of it every so often. The following quote is from an article at the Harvard School of Public Health:
“A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check” (2).
It’s important to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, in as many different colors as possible. Combining them in a salad is both easy and delicious! Loaded with vitamins and minerals, eating a salad a day will also increase the level of powerful antioxidants in your blood.
The basis of any salad, leafy greens, offer a huge nutritional benefit. Among the best of the super greens group are kale, spinach, beet greens, watercress and Romaine lettuce (3). For something a little different, try adding fresh dandelion greens and mizuna as well.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables in the “red” family are of particular nutrition benefit. This includes produce with orange, purple, red and burgundy flesh. Some examples are tomatoes, red and orange peppers, carrots, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and pomegranates.
Carotenoids are a class of compounds synthesized from the yellow, orange and red pigments of plants. This includes vitamin A and all its varied compound forms: beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. All of these have substantiated positive effects, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits within the body.
3. LOAD UP ON SALADS FOR WEIGHT CONTROL
Eating a fiber-rich salad before your entree will help you to feel full faster, so you’ll consume less calories than you might when a meal is served without this appetizer. The more raw vegetables you can incorporate into your salad, the greater the potential positive effects will be.
4. A DAILY SALAD WILL AID YOUR INTAKE OF HEALTHY FATS
Add a couple of tablespoons of mixed raw or roasted seeds like pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and ground flax or chia to boost your daily intake of good fats. Experimenting with different kinds of oils in your dressings will help with this, too.
Slicing a quarter of an avocado and adding it to your greens will also give you a boost. These foods also help the body to absorb all of the protective compounds, phytochemicals, and lutein.
Adding a healthy fat to your salad via the dressing, or by adding healthy raw nuts or avocado will also make it more filling, as fats are among the most satiating.
5. BUILD STRONG BONES
Low vitamin K levels have been linked with low bone mineral density in women. For healthy bone growth, a recommended full daily serving can be found in just 1 cup of watercress (100%), radicchio (120%) or spinach (170%).
6. PROTECT YOUR PEEPERS
The carotenoids found in the green leaves like spinach, Romaine and Red Lettuce help the eyes to adjust from bright to dark, and to filter out high-intensity light levels, protecting them from the formation of damaging free radicals.
7. IMPROVE MUSCLE PERFORMANCE
Well, it turns out Popeye knew his stuff. The nutrients found in spinach not only help to build strong bones, they also help to improve the performance of the mitochondria – little structures inside our cells that help to produce energy, as well as inform and power our muscles.
8. PROTECT YOUR HEART
Romaine lettuce contains two key nutrients in significant levels that help to protect the heart muscle: folate and fiber. High levels of folate have been shown to assist in the prevention of stroke and cardiovascular disease (4).
9. IMPROVES SKIN TONE
The high levels of water found in salad veggies improve hydration in our bodies, which is necessary for youthful skin tone and various basic bodily functions.
MAKE THE BEST SALAD IN 60 SECONDS
Do you love a fresh and healthy salad? But to prepare a salad at home, you have to wash and rinse the lettuce, slice and chop the tomatoes, then slice and chop some more and all the boring stuff.
Introducing the all new FitBowl™ Salad Maker! Just strain, slice and serve! In 3 simple steps, your ingredients are all perfectly chopped and your garden fresh salad is ready to eat. Never dirty a cutting board again!