Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 10 Reasons to Eat More Salad




When people find out I'm vegetarian, they often think I only eat salad. While that is certainly not true, salads made up of dark leafy greens are one of the most important things you can eat. Most people don't eat nearly enough. According to the CDC State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables for 2009, only 14% of American adults eat the minimum recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Now keep in mind that the minimum recommendation is to avoid serious deficiencies, not to promote actual health. To promote health and reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, etc. you need to eat double that amount. Here are 10 reasons to get more salad into your diet.

Top 10 Reasons to Eat More Salad

1. Dark leafy greens are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. You can't eat too many.

2. Eating salad helps increase your raw vegetable intake. Raw vegetables contain enzymes that help your body digest food properly, as well as nutrients that are destroyed by cooking. Everyone should eat some of their food raw each day.

3. Eating a large salad as the centerpiece of your meal will fill you up with fiber rich, nutrient-dense food and help you to control your weight. This time of year that's a big issue for so many people. If you are craving sweets, adding some fruit or a fruity dressing can satisfy that craving and leave you feeling energized.

4. It requires no skill. Even if you can't boil water, you can put together a healthy salad, no cooking is required.

5. It's fast, salads are a great convenience food. Wash your greens, spin them dry, add a few chopped veggies or fruits, maybe some nuts or beans, voila! If that even takes too much time, prewashed packaged greens and chopped veggies are available at every supermarket. You can put a healthy salad together in less time than it takes to go out and pick up a pizza.

6.  If you enjoy dining out, you can get one in pretty much any restaurant. Just leave out the bacon, chicken, cheese, croutons, and half cup of high calorie salad dressing. I've seen some restaurant salads touted as healthy that contain grilled chicken and over 1000 calories. Ask if they can add some extra veggies, or order some steamed or grilled veggies as a side dish and mix them into your salad.

7. The more you eat healthy foods the better your body will feel. Your taste buds will also adapt and you will begin to crave more healthy foods.

8. The varieties are endless. You never have to eat the same salad twice. There are buttery lettuces, peppery watercress, bitter arugula, softer textured dandelions, and crispy baby bok choy and romaine. You can add  other vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes such as chickpeas or black beans. The more variety you add to your salads, the more nutritious they'll be. Use lots of colorful ingredients for optimal health.

9. It's  important to get healthy fats.  In this abstract from The Journal of Nutrition of an Ohio State University study the healthy fat in avocado significantly enhances carotenoid absorption from salad and also from salsa.
Vitamin D, beta-carotene, and vitamin E are just some of the nutrients that require fat to be absorbed. If you are eating that salad or those carrot sticks without any fat, you are not absorbing the nutrients. However, a little goes a long way, and make sure it is healthy fat- olive oil, a few nuts or seeds or some avocado.

10. This is my favorite reason- salads are fun and they taste good!
                  
The salad photographed above was quite tasty.  The vitamin c in the clementine helps with iron absorption from the spinach. I used my vitamix to make the smooth dressing, but you could use any blender, then just strain it.

Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette


vinaigrette:

seeds from 1 pomegranate (reserve a few to sprinkle on the salad)
1/8 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medjool date, pitted
pinch sea salt and pepper

Puree in blender, strain if needed. Drizzle a little over salad, store the rest in the fridge.

salad:

spinach
1 clementine, peeled and sectioned
few reserved pomegranate seeds
handful of raw sunflower seeds


5 comments:

Fayinagirl (means Free One) December 16, 2009 at 5:36 PM  

Love the look of your salad and the reasons you gave for eating more salads.

For some absurd reason I love salads in restaurant settings but just can't get into them at home. I just throw all my greens into my daily smoothies. But, I'm trying to overcome said problem...so keep posting salad ideas and maybe you'll get me eating more of them. ;-)

Vegan Epicurean December 16, 2009 at 7:20 PM  

Janet,

I eat salads for breakfast lunch and dinner, anytime of day is fine with me. Though I think most people would find that odd. I love salads and make many different variations.

You are right, omnis do tend to think vegetarians only eat salad. Most omnis I know should eat more veggies. I am always surprised when we go out to eat with friends by how few veggies and fruit others eat.

talk to you later,
Alicia

blessedmama December 17, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

I love salads. When I was a teenager, my mom would put me in charge of making salads for the family because I always threw in whatever I saw - and that was before I was veggie or knew how to cook. Now, we eat salads all year long. Thanks for the 10 reasons.

Oraphan December 18, 2009 at 1:59 AM  

Oh, your salad looks so amazing! Thanks so much for sharing such great info, Janet!

I'm so happy to let you know that I've been eating fresh salad every single day for lunch (sometime for breakfast and dinner)and I've never had enough of it, I just love it so much:)

Vegan Valerie January 22, 2010 at 12:19 AM  

I love salads! I sometimes make a salad with Lacinato (or Dinosaur) Kale! I call it my Dino Salad! Great information, but most importantly it's common sense. I love how the right thing to do is usually just plain and simple common sense! Thanks for sharing your blog with me today, Janet! :)

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