The Healthiest Choice: Salads
Salads are the food for all seasons and, we believe, our health goals, ranging from classic to gourmet variants.
However, this isn’t always the case.
Some may have a high calorie count, while others may be deficient in nutrients. To get the most nutritious bang for your buck, you need a healthy balance of both.
Here are a few tips to help you choose wisely.
1] Leafy base
Color is an excellent indicator of nutritional status. Darker leaves, such as spinach, romaine, and kale, are higher in antioxidants and nutrients than lighter-colored ones; an iceberg lettuce salad is primarily water, with limited amounts of fibre and nutrients, despite being low in calories (15 cal).
The rough leaves, such as kale and swiss chard, are particularly high in dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and weight management.
To begin, choose a variety of colors to ensure that you get a healthy combination of nutrients!
Why? Because phytonutrients protect humans from free radical damage in addition to providing color, aroma, and flavor to plants.
Carotenoids are the most well-known, such as the red lycopene found in tomatoes and watermelon, which protects our skin from the sun. Even carrots’ colorful beta-carotene is transformed to vitamin A, which is necessary for night vision, brain function, immunological competence, and many other functions. Carotenoids, it turns out, also play a role in beauty, according to research.
Flavonoids are another type of antioxidant that aids in the transport of Vitamin C in the body. Yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as broccoli, kale, parsley, celery, and capsicum peppers, contain these.
Second, don’t shy away from fatty vegetables!
Avocado, cabbage, tarragon, mangold, zucchini, and broccoli are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect you from allergies, gum disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.
Also, choose vegetables that are raw or minimally steamed.
Carrots, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers provide more antioxidants to the body when boiled/steamed than when raw. Cooking veggies has the disadvantage of destroying the vitamin C content.
If your previous meals have been prepared, go for raw veggies to ensure a balanced intake of all nutrients throughout the day.
Protein should be consumed at a rate of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight every day.
Non-vegetarians should choose lean meats such as chicken or turkey. Eggs are nutrient-dense, high in protein, and low in calories. Avoid high-calorie, processed meats like bacon and salami, as well as fried meats.
Fatty fish (mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon) should be eaten twice a week to get enough protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
For vegetarians, choose for tofu (firm tofu has twice the protein level of silken tofu) and legumes; beans are high in fiber and plant-based protein, so this is a good option for vegans.
Some salad toppings and sauces can make a meal as fatty as a double cheeseburger!
Keep the creamy dressings to a minimum; they’re typically high in sugar and low in nutritious value. Choose a vinaigrette or a citrus dressing instead.
A simple, flavorful, and low-calorie dressing made with olive oil and lemon juice contains vitamin C and some beneficial fatty acids.
A yogurt-based dressing is also a smart choice, as it contains probiotics that are beneficial to gut health.
Order your dressing on the side when ordering at a restaurant (some salads have more dressing than vegetables!).
Cheese is abundant in protein, calcium, vitamin A, B12, riboflavin, zinc, and phosphorus, despite its high calorie content. It also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of lipid that has anti-cancer, weight-loss, and heart-protective properties. The CLA content in mature cheddar, blue, brie, Edam, and Swiss cheeses is higher than that of other cheeses.
However, don’t eat too much cheese because it contains a lot of saturated fat.
This just another way of saying “fried”! These come with unhealthy trans-fats that do not offer any nutrition and are associated with heart disease. Croutons, bacon bits, crispy noodles, fried chicken strips and onion rings can make the calorie count soar – needless to say, they don’t help your salad’s health quotient.
Nuts and seeds:
Here’s a terrific substitute for the extra “crunch”! For example, peanuts are high in zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin B3, all of which are essential for healthy skin – but only eat a handful because they’re high in calories. Also, chia seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, can be used.
Couscous and quinoa are excellent sources of vital amino acids, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and dietary fiber.
Fruits and dry fruits:
They’re another wonderful source of phytonutrients and fiber, with a sweet twist and a nutritious taste. Salad favorites include pomegranates, oranges, melons, and raisins.
Spices are a great way to enhance flavor without having to use too much salt or sugar. Cinnamon and chilies, for example, are high in phytonutrients.
So, here’s a broad view of the healthiest choice in a salad:
That said, here are some healthy salads that you can pick from (restaurants often add ingredients upon request):
– Spinach, tofu and pesto salad
– Arugula, tomato and cucumber salad in olive oil
– Chilli pepper and ginger flavoured greens and smoked salmon
– Moroccan chickpea and carrot salad
– Watermelon and feta cheese with greens
With these basic guidelines in mind, you may have a delicious salad with all of your favorite flavors as well as the calorie count and nutrients you require!