May is National Salad Month – a great time to perfect your salad recipe before your first barbecue this summer! More importantly, it is also a good time to read up on the jam-packed nutrients found in your leafy greens. For me, the choice to become a vegetarian many years ago made salads a staple part of my diet. While you don’t need to stop eating meat in order to enjoy more salads, you should find a balance between the two—or better yet, combine the two! You will have a protein- and vitamin-rich meal that is not only healthy – it’s tasty!
So, to help you see why things are always greener on the other side, let’s chat and chew about the health benefits of eating salad.
Build your strength. Between spinach, radicchio and watercress (all types of leaves), there’s a lot of vitamin K to go around. A Tufts University study showed that low dietary intake of vitamin K, specifically in women, has been associated with low bone mineral density. So, don’t crack under pressure—salads aren’t that intimidating. Instead, toss around a few ideas until you find the perfect combination—your bones will thank you!
See things more clearly. Treat yourself to a salad with spinach, romaine, and red leaf lettuce, and you might literally see things more clearly. These leaves are full of carotenoids vitamin A, which helps eyes adapt from bright light to darkness, while Lutein and Zeaxanthin help filter out high-energy light that may damage your eyes due to free radicals. (1)
Hit the trifecta. Salads are a smart choice for anyone, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only are salads VERY low in calories, eating them helps reduce cravings for other fatty foods. Even better – start with a small salad before a meal and you’ll reduce your chances of over-eating.
You can still enjoy fast food. While I’m sure McDonald’s or Burger King is coming to mind, rest assured, that’s not my point. Salads are quick and easy to whip up before you leave for work in the morning, during your lunch break, or at night when you’re exhausted from a long day. Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Healthier choices not only lead to more greens on your plate, but more green in your wallet.
Now that you know how beneficial salads are to your health, why not try some recipes on your own? Try mixing together one from the list below:
- Romaine Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Spinach Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
- Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad
- Chicken and Prosciutto Salad with Arugula and Asiago
- Steak, Pear, and Watercress Salad
As we gear up for summer and get-togethers with friends and family, try spreading the healthy habits wherever you go! Just because it’s not January, it doesn’t mean we can’t work toward new resolutions. Use this month to start eating salads every week—or day—and start enjoying the simple (and healthier) things in life!