Whether fresh, frozen or dried, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can be great additions to your salad. Not only are they low in calories and fat, but they are also high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, which are essential to neutralizing the free radicals that have been linked to the development of cancer. Adding a cup to your next salad will add color and sweetness, but also promote your overall health.
Walnuts, almonds and cashews have been proven to lower blood cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease. They’re also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve joint health and their high concentration of fiber will keep you feeling fuller longer. So sprinkle a handful of nuts on your next salad and you’ll add that nice crunchy texture, without the help of fattening croutons.
No salad is complete without the addition of cheese. But who knew that a food tasting this good could also have so many health benefits? As an excellent source of calcium and vitamin B, cheese can not only help strengthen teeth and bones, but it can also prevent the early on-set of osteoporosis. Cheese is also an excellent source of protein, which is vital for repairing muscles, building tissues and controlling your metabolism. But since cheese is naturally high in fat, stick to low-fat options like goat or feta cheese and use only an ounce or two– you’ll still get all the nutritional benefits and taste, just without the high amount of calories.
Although we often opt for meat or poultry when making a salad, fish may actually be a healthier alternative since it’s lower in saturated fat. Also, due to its high concentration of Omega-3s, the consumption of oily, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring has been shown to maintain skin health, increase brain function, improve vision and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and many other inflammatory disorders. Opt for grilled, baked or steamed fish rather than fried options to keep calories to a minimum.
Although salad dressings can add a lot of taste to your salad, they can also pack on a ton of calories. Two tablespoons of ranch dressing has more than 140 calories and 15 grams of fat! So next time, try substituting olive oil, which not only has an abundance of flavor, but as a healthy fat, it can also lower your risk of heart disease and maintain blood sugar levels. Plus, its high concentration of oleic acid has been shown to inhibit the development of prostate and breast cancer.
Although these are often ignored in our diet, legumes, such as black beans and chickpeas, are excellent sources of protein and can provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid, which prevents birth defects and iron, which keeps your circulatory system healthy. Legumes are also high in fiber which can help lower levels of damaging LDL cholesterol and your risk for heart disease.
Although a breakfast food staple, eggs can also serve as a great addition to your salad. At only 70 calories per egg, they are not only low in fat, but they also contain 13 percent of your daily recommended value of protein, which is needed to build and repair muscles. They also contain two antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin – which have been shown to maintain eye health and prevent age-related blindness. Although there are several ways to cook eggs – baked, fried, scrambled, poached – stick to eating them boiled to ensure you’re absorbing most, if not all, of the nutrients.
Don’t wait around for your next guacamole dip to get your avocado fix. Each serving of creamy avocado provides nearly 20 essential nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, folic acid and B vitamins. With avocados containing 30 percent more potassium than a banana, these tiny fruits can also help regulate blood pressure and prevent the development of circulatory diseases.
Romaine lettuce doesn’t always have to serve as your salad’s base. In fact switching out romaine for darker greens like baby spinach, arugula or a spring mix, can heighten your intake of iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Fat-free and low in both carbohydrates and calories, robust greens are a great addition to your plate and their high levels of pro-vitamin carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, can inhibit the growth of breast, skin, stomach and lung cancer.
We all know that eating salads is a healthy choice for lunch and dinner, but for some of us, just looking at a bowl of lettuce makes us lose our appetite. Try adding a few of these ingredients to your next salad to boost your nutrition and satisfy your appetite.