Apr 6, 2023
5 Ways To Increase the Nutritional Power of Your Salad
Salad is a popular appetizer or meal. Studies suggest the average person consumes between 12 and 13 pounds of lettuce annually. While it is a popular menu item, people rarely make the most of their salad options from a nutritional perspective.
A salad can serve as a nutrient-dense meal filled with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and other essential minerals. If you are not making the most of your salads, consider adding several ingredients to pack a nutrient punch.
1. Change the Greens
Most salads use iceberg or romaine lettuce. While each lettuce is a safe choice, neither is the most nutritious option.
For a more nutrient-rich salad, consider adding darker leafy greens. Some popular options include:
Not only do dark leafy greens increase the fiber content of a salad, but they also boost its antioxidant and nutrient levels. However, some people dislike the taste or texture of darker greens, so nutritionists suggest using a vinaigrette or mixing in some lighter lettuce to suppress the stronger flavors and texture.
2. Consider Your Veggies
An entrée salad typically uses two to three cups of dark or mixed greens. To add to the salad's nutritional value, include at least one cup of vegetables.
Use vegetables with a mix of colors, like oranges and reds. For example, cut up some carrots and bell peppers to add flavor and crunch.
You want to avoid canned veggies because they usually contain extra sodium. It is best to use fresh vegetables when they are in season and frozen when out of season.
3. Include a Protein
Protein helps reduce your appetite, burn fat, and boosts your metabolism. In addition, the best proteins are clean and free of preservatives and other chemicals.
When most people think of protein, they think of meat. However, vegetarians and vegans have other protein options, such as legumes, tofu, beans, etc. Eggs also provide an excellent source of protein.
If you want to go the traditional protein route, you can opt for organic chicken, grass-fed meats, or wild-caught fish and seafood. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and is a tasty complement to salads.
4. Use Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are essential to hormone production and other bodily functions, including brain and nervous system functions. The right fats offer nutritional and biological support. Some of the best healthy fats to add to salads include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Raw walnuts and almonds
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Flaxseed oil
5. Try Tofu
Most vegetarians are familiar with tofu, but too many omnivores ignore the food. Tofu is condensed soy milk that undergoes a similar process to cheese making.
Besides being an excellent source of protein, tofu also contains fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, and copper. Also, the food contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytochemicals.
Salad is a standard menu item, but too many people waste the dietary opportunity to secure a nutrient-dense dish. Adding dark leafy greens, various vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats can significantly increase the nutrient punch of a traditional and often dull meal.