Healthy salads are one of a good way to keep you in shape. It is already consumed by many people in the world as a main dish. What is on your mind when I say “salad”? Is it “healthy”, “colorful”, or “blah”? Salads are always considered as the healthiest diet as they are made of various kinds of vegetables. You can imaginse a number of nutrients are packed in a plate of salad. But, are all salads healthy? Let’s find out the right ingredients for healthy salads and what makes healthy salads turn into the unhealthy ones.
The benefits of eating salads
Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients. Vitamins and minerals that are needed by our body to stay healthy can be found in every single part of raw fruits and vegetables. And the most delightful way to enjoy raw fruits and vegetables is by tossing them to form a plate of healthy salads. As a result, you will be able to get various benefits from a plate of salads. There are some easy healthy salads that you can try.
- Rich in Fiber
Leafy greens that are usually found in salads contain fiber. Each leafy green contains different nutrients, but each of them has sufficient fiber that will help you improve your digestive system. Dark green vegetables contain more fiber and vitamins than light green ones.
Some dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale are high in insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is good to maintain the health of your digestive tract. It is also a good partner of weight loss programs as it is low in calories.
Another form of fiber is soluble fiber which is good for your heart. It helps you to lower cholesterol levels that lead to lowering the risk of heart diseases. Soluble fiber such as carrots, parsnips, beets, and summer squash is highly recommended for those who are taking healthy weight loss programs since it can make you stay stuffed for a longer period of time.
Hint: Insoluble fiber may be harmful to those who are suffering from gut issues such as diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). If you want to get the benefits of insoluble fiber without taking the risk, you have to eat the vegetables containing insoluble fiber along with the ones containing soluble fiber. Thinly cut, dice, or grate the vegetables so that they can be broken down easily.
- Abundant of nutrients
Raw vegetables are overwhelmed by vitamins and minerals that are eminently good for our body. Kale, spinach, and beets are rich in antioxidants that can help you inhibit the aging process, lower the risk of cancer, preventing heart disease and stroke, and lower the risk of dementia.
Vitamin A found in carrots, winter squash, and collard greens can help you maintain your eyesight. It also makes your hair and nails stay healthy.
Vitamin C is responsible for maintaining your immune system, healing wounds, and keeping the healthy of your teeth and gums. You can get all those benefits by eating a plate of salad which is made of bell peppers, strawberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and chard.
Vitamin E found in almonds, sunflower seeds, spinaches, bell peppers, and asparagus is one of the great antioxidants. It protects your cell from damage.
Vitamin K found in kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, mustard green, broccoli, and parsley is responsible for the formation of blood clots. It enables you to stop bleeding after getting cut.
- Healthy weight loss diet
People who are attempting to lose weight will consider changing their everyday meal into healthy salads. It is because they want to cut down on their calorie intake. Excessive calories will be stored as fat and it will notoriously affect your waistline significantly.
Some salads contain beans such as frozen peas that are high in fiber. The fiber found in peas help you to feel full for a longer period of time so that you will not ruin your weight loss program by grabbing high-calorie snacks such as chips or donuts.
Salads are made of raw vegetables that are very low in calories. Therefore, salads might be the best choice for those who are eager to get in shape.
- Better your skin tone and build your muscle
Vegetables contain much water that can improve hydration in your body. Eating a bowl of vegetable salads will improve your skin tone due to the water found in the vegetables.
In addition to improving hydration, vegetable salads can also help you build your muscle by improving the performance of mitochondria and strengthening your bones.
The drawbacks of eating salads
Salads are such healthy food that is rich in vitamins and minerals. However, salads are not always good for you. In fact, they are not the best food as some drawbacks are also entailed.
- Incomplete nutrients
Salads are rich in vitamins and minerals, but it does not mean that all the nutrients you need are available in a plate of vegetable salads. Most vegetables are low in protein. Protein is very crucial in improving metabolism, building and repairing tissues, and making enzymes and hormones.
If you are attempting to bulk your muscle up, lean protein intake is inevitably important to reach your goal. And those lean protein can be got from eating high protein and low-calorie meat such as the skinless chicken breast.
Some vegetarians might get protein from other sources such as beans, soya beans, and broccoli. Well, they do contain protein, but the amino acid found in vegetables is different from the one found in meat. The protein in vegetables, to some extent, is not as effective as the one in meat.
Deficiency of protein intake can lead to several health issues such as getting slower to heal wounds, having less healthy skin, and inhibiting bodybuilding.
- Weight gain
Eating salads are always synonymous with weight loss. In some cases, eating salads can put on a few pounds. Perhaps, you are now wondering how low-calorie vegetables can make you gain weight.
If you have been eating salads for weeks, yet you find your waistline keeps increasing, you need to evaluate the way you serve the salads.
Salads are an effective partner of combatting weight gain. Unfortunately, some salads have turned into a pack of abundant calories and saturated fat. How can it happen?
Overwhelmed by salad dressing. Since salads are made of raw vegetables, they tend to taste bland, somehow. To make it more appetizing, people drizzle salad dressing over it. Is it wrong? No. It’s not wrong as long as you do not overwhelm your salad with creamy dressing which is usually high in calories and saturated fats. Two tablespoons of commercial dressings adds 200 calories to your salad.
Being cheesy. Some people add cheese to their salads simply because they think that cheese is a source of protein and calcium, so it will be great if they combine salads with cheese. Then, they end up going further with that excuse and forget their objective of eating salads. Eventually, the vegetables are completely covered by shredded cheese.
Cheese may do you good if you limit your cheese intake. Some people add much cheese to their salads to make the salads taste better. Don’t forget that cheese also contains saturated fat, sodium, and calories. A half cup of shredded cheese will add 225 calories and 18 grams fat to your diet. No wonder they keep gaining weight although they eat salads every day.
Crispy deep-fried chicken. Chicken is a good source of protein and it can be one of the best partners of your salad. But, it can also be a complete bomb on your salad if you deep fry the chicken with an abundance of cooking oil. Fried chicken may add more than 100 calories and 20 grams of fat to your salads. It will not only expand your waistline, but also increase the risk of heart diseases.
Going crazy with crispy stuff. Adding crispy stuff like crispy noodles or croutons might make your salad taste more delicious. Yes. It’s true. Both crispy noodles and croutons will turn your bland salad into a delightful salad. But they also turn a healthy salad into an unhealthy one at the same time.
Those crunchy and crispy stuff are loaded with a number of calories. A half cup of delicious croutons can add 100 calories to your salad, while the crispy noodle adds 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, and more than 200mg of sodium.
Sweet dried fruits. Adding fruits to your salad can be a wonderful idea as fruits are loaded with vitamins. But be sure that they are not dried fruit. Dried fruit tastes sweet because they might have been contaminated with either sugar-sweetener or artificial-sweetener. One third of a cup of sugar-sweetened cranberries, for instance, gives you 130 calories and over 30g of carbohydrates.
Wrapping the salad. You are attempting to increase your vegetable intake by eating salads every day. Then, you may think to make an on-the-go salad that you can eat everywhere and every time you want.
One of the ways of making an on-the-go salad is by wrapping your salad by using taco, for example. Salads’ warp is usually loaded with more than 300 calories. Taco even contains 1000 calories.
- The bland taste
Some people agree that healthy salads are prone to taste terrible. This bland taste is the one that has triggered off people to do the excuses above. They do not aware of what they are doing. They think that as long as they eat vegetables, any additional flavors and crackers will be outweighed by the health benefits of vegetables.
Salads do have advantages and disadvantages. But it does not mean that you cannot enjoy eating healthy salads and get the health benefits of salads. You can be healthy with the tasty salads if you toss them properly. Here are some tips on creating healthy salads without ruining their health benefits.
- Pick the veg
You are going to make salads, so picking the right vegetables that are rich in nutrients is a must. Pick one or two kinds of leafy greens. Leafy greens are high in vitamins, minerals, and insoluble fiber. The color of vegetables embodies the nutrients found in leafy greens. The darker the green is, the more nutrients you will get.
In addition to the leafy greens, you can choose some other vegetables that have the different colors such as tomatoes, carrots, or bell peppers. Colorful salads tend to be more appetizing.
You also need to pay attention to how you process the vegetables. Eating them raw will be the best way of obtaining the health benefits of vegetables. But if you feel like want to try something new, you can grill them.
- Say hi to the healthy dressings
Drizzling your salads with the ready-to-use commercial dressings that you can find in the supermarket is convenient. But don’t forget that they are loaded with calories and saturated fat. Instead of using those creamy yet unhealthy dressings, you can make your healthy dressings.
You can try using lemon or lime juice for the dressing of your salads. Other safer options are balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette. If you like eating out and ordering salads in a restaurant, you can still cut down on the excessive calories by getting the dressing served separated from the vegetables. Your salads will not be overwhelmed by calories anymore.
- Add lean protein
If you are not strict vegetarians, adding lean protein such as skinless chicken breast or eggs to your salads will be highly-recommended as it can replenish your amino acid intake.
Be sure that the chicken is not drenched in oil. Grill or saute it will a little oil will do in a pinch. And do not fry the eggs. Bring them to the boil, instead. It is healthier and will not add calories to your salads significantly.
- If you are a cheese lover….
Adding too much cheese to your salads can raise a number of calories. But, what if you are a cheese lover? Is it forbidden to add cheese to the salads?
Absolutely, not. You just need to pay attention to how much cheese that you add yo your salad. One and a half ounces of cheese will be fine. Or you can top your salads with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. By doing so, you will be able to save 170 calories and 16 g of fat. Try going with reduced fat cheese, Parmesan, or vegetarian cheese that are low in fat.
- Go with the crispy crunchy stuff
Adding crunchy stuff to your salads is not a sin. Instead of the high-calorie croutons and fried noodles, take a crack at adding water chestnuts. It is a healthier choice since a half cup of water chestnuts contain no fat. They only contain 2 grams of fiber, 10mg sodium, and 35 calories. Some other options will be sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, or nuts.
If you need to make up your mind about what you will have for dinner, take this healthy salad recipe into your consideration.
Radish Shrimp with Feta and Mint Salad
Shrimp will add protein to your salad without adding too much fat. Radish is high in fiber and will add crunchy sensation to your salad. Don’t forget the appetizing aroma of mint.
- 20 shrimps, peeled and rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons divided extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1 small bunch watercress. Remove the tough stems
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups halved, cored, thinly sliced fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
- Season shrimp, don’t forget salt and the pepper to your liking.
- Heat just 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add fennel seeds and shrimp to the pan.
- Cook them for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. Turn it often.
- Remove the pan from heat, toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Set aside.
- In a big mixing bowl, combine fennel, watercress, radishes, the olive oil, and the remaining lemon juice. Toss them well.
- Divide salad on 4 plates. Top each of them with the shrimp, cheese, and mint.
Finally, a plate of healthy and tasty salad is ready to serve for your dinner. It is easy peasy, isn’t it? The last one is the best heatlhy salads for me.
Increasing healthy foods intake is very essential. Healthy salads will be one of the best choices to keep you fit. But, beware of turning your healthy salads into the unhealthy ones due to the excuse of the bland taste. Your salads can still be tasty without adding too much cheese, dressing, and crunchy croutons. Try considering the healthier additional ingredients to your salads. Keep being healthy!