Eating a salad is a great way to consume phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and living enzymes. But some antioxidants are fat-soluble and need a little bit of fat to get those great health boosters into your bloodstream. Here are several tips that may add greater benefit to your already nutrition brimming salad:
Avocados provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid, and, according to research published in the Nutrition Journal, eating just one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may satiate you if you’re overweight, which will help prevent unnecessary snacking later. Those who ate half an avocado with their standard lunch reported being 40 percent less hungry three hours after their meal and 28 percent less hungry at the five-hour mark compared to those who did not eat avocado for lunch. The study also found that avocados appear helpful for regulating blood sugar levels.
Avocado is also beneficial for maintaining optimal cholesterol levels. Healthy individuals saw a 16 percent decrease in total cholesterol level following a one-week-long diet high in monounsaturated fat from avocados. In those with elevated cholesterol levels, the avocado diet resulted in a 17 percent decrease of serum total cholesterol, and a 22 percent decrease of both LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, along with an 11 percent increase of the so-called “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Fermented vegetables
Eating fermented vegetables, and other fermented foods regularly is also one of the best ways to nourish your gut flora for optimal nutrient absorption, as a healthy gut is conducive to this. Without the proper balance of gut bacteria, your body cannot absorb certain undigested starches, fiber, and sugars.
The friendly bacteria in your digestive tract convert these carbohydrates into primary sources of important energy. These bacteria also produce a secondary layer of indispensable fermentation byproducts such as bacteriocins (which fight infection), beta glucans (which modulate immunity), and the entire B group vitamin series, to name but only a few of the nutrients they are capable of producing for us.
Beans are loaded with nutrients that our bodies crave:
B Vitamins: are necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells, for normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system.
Calcium: for strong bones and teeth and to help keep the body more alkaline, rather than acidic.
Potassium: helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Folate: a B vitamin that our bodies don’t produce yet dry beans are our single best source of this important vitamin which helps protect against heart disease and cancer.
The variety of flavors and kinds of beans will keep your salads tasting fresh and new:
- kidney beans
- garbanzo beans
- adzuki beans
- lima beans
- red lentils
- green lentils
- brown lentils
- black beans
- black eyed peas
- broad beans
- red beans
- butter beans
- fava beans
- great northern beans
- haricot beans
- mung beans
- navy beans
- pinto beans
- yellow split peas
- green split peas
- white beans
Micro-greens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs harvested less than 14 days after germination. They are usually about 1-3 inches long and come in a rainbow of colors, which has made them popular in recent years as garnishes with chefs.
Researchers found micro-greens like red cabbage, cilantro, and radish contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts. “The micro-greens were four- to 40-fold more concentrated with nutrients than their mature counterparts,” says researcher Qin Wang, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Maryland in College Park. “When we first got the results we had to rush to double and triple check them.”
Researchers evaluated levels of four groups of vital nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and beta-carotene, in 25 different commercially grown micro-greens. The results are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E levels were highest among red cabbage, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radish micro-greens.
Cilantro micro-greens were richest in terms of lutein and beta-carotene.
The flavor of micro-greens is also more intense, so a little goes a long way to enhance a meal.
Until recently, commercially grown micro-greens have only been available to chefs, who use them as flavor accents and garnishes for soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Today, they are available at most farmers markets and upscale grocery stores.
- Leafy greens
To add a stronger nutritional punch, add variety to the leafy greens in your salad. Whether it’s collard, chard, kale, dandelion, arugula or watercress, the flavors will change the taste of the salad, and each of these greens creates a distinct nutritional profile that will likely knock your socks off when you see what you are consuming! The vitamin K2 will be off the charts as will the chlorophyll and vitamin C, just to name a few. Remember, the more bitter the better when it comes to nutrition and leafy greens.
- Seeds and Nuts
Although they may be a bit high in fats, they are powerful when it comes to adding flavor, fiber, omegas and protein as well as trace minerals. A little goes a long way, but don’t forget the small handful of pure decadence to your salad.
Kohlrabi is actually a German term for ”cabbage turnip.” It belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family just like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. Even though it seems like a root, it’s actually a “swollen stem” which grows over the soil. Kohlrabi in the German terminology implies cabbage and that’s the family line which Kohlrabi originates from. Kohlrabi is usually a mix of a cabbage as well as a turnip.
Kohlrabi is a nutrient packed food. It features a higher nutrient-to-calorie ratio.
Kohlrabi consists of most of the phytochemicals regarded as crucial in cancer avoidance, which includes glucosinolates, which assist the liver detox carcinogens. The high anti-oxidant capabilities of kohlrabi assists to limit free radical harm to the cells, which is extensively associated with various kinds of cancer. This particular stemmed veggie consist of higher quantities of the Vitamin B compound just like niacin, Vitamin B6, thiamin, as well as pantothenic acid which serves as co-factor within the numerous metabolic process functions which are carried out in the body.
Tomatoes are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, including, of course, their oftentimes-rich concentration of lycopene. Researchers have found an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties, and bone health. We don’t always think about antioxidant protection as being important for bone health, but it is; and tomato lycopene (and other tomato antioxidants) may have a special role to play in this area.
Consumption of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.
And the best part of tomatoes? The summer season has the best tasting, most beautiful tomatoes of the year!
- Fresh Herbs
Add flavor and loads of nutrition with each handful of fresh parsley, cilantro, rosemary, fennel, and more.
- Rosemary will boost brainpower
- Parsley helps prevent breast cancer
- Peppermint soothes the colon
- Oregano fights inflammation
- Thyme provides mega-antioxidants
- Cilantro helps remove heavy metals
And you only need a small amount to get the benefits and the flavor!
- Colors and Textures of the farmers market
Add a new, never tasted before vegetable to each salad and you will find your salads will give you greater satisfaction and provide more healthy nutrients than ever before. Now is the time to break from the routine salad fixings and explore the jicama, celery root, parsnips, and the host of other delectable and nutritious vegetables that are abundant in the farmers markets during the summer.
One final idea is to add some cooked quinoa to your salad. Researchers have recently taken a close look at certain antioxidant phytonutrients in quinoa, and two flavonoids—quercetin and kaempferol—are now known to be provided by quinoa in especially concentrated amounts. In fact, the concentration of these two flavonoids in quinoa can sometimes be greater than their concentration in high-flavonoid berries like cranberry or lingonberry.
Recent studies are providing us with a greatly expanded list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa. This unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds in quinoa may be the key to understanding preliminary animal studies that show decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals are fed quinoa on a daily basis. The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include: polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans; hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids; flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol; and saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid. Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.
In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid). Quinoa can also provide small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Summertime is the best time to create the greatest salads that will provide the highest nutritional benefits. And, you can’t beat the flavors of the season!