There’s a lot to love about salads from a health standpoint. Eating a fresh garden salad is one of the best ways to get a plateful of antioxidant-rich vegetables that are low in calories, and if you avoid the obvious calorie traps such as croutons, ranch dressing and gobs of cheese, you can turn one into a healthy meal. When you’re ready to make your next salad, here are six of the healthiest salad ingredients you can use to give it added health benefits and transform it into a power salad.
Healthiest Salad Ingredients: Broccoli Sprouts
You may have seen them on supermarket shelves as Broccosprouts. These immature sprouts have up to fifty times the cancer-fighting power of mature broccoli florets, which are already known for their anti-cancer benefits. That certainly earns them the designation of healthiest salad ingredient. Broccoli sprouts are rich in an enzyme called myrosinase that converts chemicals called glucoraphanins in broccoli and broccoli sprouts to active anti-cancer compounds called sulforaphanes. Unfortunately, cooking broccoli destroys some of its natural myrosinase, but you can get it back by eating uncooked broccoli sprouts. Sprinkle some on your next salad for extra cancer-fighting power.
Skip the creamy dressings, and choose a dressing made from olive oil. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat. Like other monounsaturated fats, it lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL levels, which helps to ward off heart disease and reduce the risk of stroke. The good fats in olive also improve absorption of fat soluble vitamins and beta-carotene from the veggies in your salad.
Pistachios add crunch to a salad along with extra protection against heart disease. Pistachios help to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation inside blood vessels that can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Plus, pistachios are the lowest calorie nut. Forty-nine pistachios have only 158 calories. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, doesn’t it?
Adding protein to a salad increases satiety so you’re less likely to crave a doughnut or reach for a bag of potato chips later on. Salmon is chock full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. Be sure to add wild Alaskan salmon to your salad rather than farmed salmon to maximize the amount of omega-3s you get.
Blueberries add a hint of natural sweetness to salads, and they’re rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins that have a multitude of health benefits. Preliminary research shows these vivid pigments that give blueberries their rich color help to ward off age-related memory declines and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. For added variety, add blueberries, strawberries and walnuts to a bed of spinach to create an antioxidant power salad.
Avocados contain the same type of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. They’re also high in fiber and contain a unique compound called beta-sitosterol that helps to keep breast cancer at bay. Adding slices of fresh avocado to a salad makes it more filling, but don’t go overboard. A cup of chopped avocado has around 235 calories.
Healthiest Salad Ingredients: The Bottom Line?
Why settle for a boring garden salad when you can turn it into a power salad by adding a few extra ingredients? Enjoy the added taste and the many health benefits of these healthy salad enhancers.
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Penn State Live. “Pistachios offer multiple health benefits”
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