Did you know that the more colorful your diet is, the healthier it is? That’s why the more colors you have in your salad is not just about making it look prettier. A rainbow salad is an excellent way to get most of your daily requirements of essential nutrients. All you need to do is choose the healthiest salad ingredients, ones that are full to bursting with the best nutrition.
A Salad a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Eating a salad every day means you are more likely to get your recommended daily intake of many essential nutrients. A nutrient-filled cornucopia for lunch is not only delicious, but it will also leave you feeling full until dinnertime. Below is a list of the 12 healthiest ingredients.
● gm - grams
● mg - milligrams
● mcg – micrograms
● IU – International Units
1. Red-Leaf Lettuce
Lettuce forms the basis of many salads and red lettuce is a good choice. Four leaves of this colorful lettuce provide 1,213 mcg of antioxidants, 96 mcg of vitamin K, and 1,172 mcg of the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein. Other nutrients include potassium and vitamins A, B6, C, and folate. Folate is a B vitamin that your body needs to make genetic material such as DNA and to assist in cell division.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Cancer, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and weight control.
Don't just stick to lettuce. Mix things up by adding this highly nutritious, dark leafy green. One cup provides 58 mcg of folate. Other nutrients include protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Folate (the natural form of folic acid) reduces stroke risk and decreases your chance of developing heart disease. Spinach is also beneficial for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, weight control, and depression.
No salad is complete without the cheerful redness of tomatoes. Four bright red cherry tomatoes provide 1,748 mcg of lycopene. Tomatoes also contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Lycopene is a proven cancer-fighter. Tomatoes are also beneficial in preventing heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Carrots provide one of the best sources of provitamin A carotenoids, plant compounds that function as antioxidants. 1/4 cup of this shredded orange vegetable gives you 2,279 mcg of beta-carotene and 4,623 IU of vitamin A. Other nutrients are fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and K.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Vitamin A is an immune system regulator. It is also involved in bone growth, improved vision, and a decreased risk of lung cancer. Carrots are also beneficial with respect to hypertension, osteoporosis, and weight control.
Just three spears of this bright green vegetable give 294 mg of potassium. Broccoli also comes with calcium, fiber, and a whole bunch of vitamins - A, B6, C, K, folate, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Potassium acts to dilate blood vessels and increase the amount of sodium excreted in the urine. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure and protects against stroke. Broccoli also helps combat other forms of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis.
6. Yellow Bell Peppers
Four pieces of yellow bell pepper contain approximately 48 mg of free-radical fighting vitamin C. Vitamin C assists with weight loss by helping the body to burn fat. You also get potassium and vitamins A, B6, and folate.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
7. Kidney Beans
You want to make sure to toss this colorful red nutrient into your bowl. A 1/4-cup of kidney beans provides 6,630 disease-fighting antioxidants, plus a hefty three grams of fiber. You will also get a good helping of folate.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Heart disease, cancer diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
8. Flax and Sunflower Seeds
Add some crunch to your greens with these healthy seeds. One tablespoon of flaxseeds provides 2.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of sunflower seeds gives you 8.35 mcg of selenium, an important mineral often missing in today’s foods. Other nutrients include fiber and vitamin E.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of heart disease. Ingredients in these seeds also help fight cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Every healthy salad needs a few nuts, and almonds are a perfect choice. One tablespoon of almonds gives you 2.2 gm of a type of vitamin E called alpha-tocopherol. You also get fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fat.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Alpha-tocopherol is thought to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and to help with cancer prevention, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
10. Swiss Cheese
Adding Swiss cheese gives you extra protein. Four cubes of this tasty yellow cheese will also provide 476 mg of calcium, 26 IU of vitamin D, and a serving of vitamin B12.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Vitamin D is associated with a decreased risk of prostate, pancreatic, and testicular cancers. Swiss cheese also helps with stroke prevention, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s.
11. Chunk Light Tuna in Water
If you like tuna in your salad, you get another source of protein. Plus, tuna in water contains no trans fats. Three ounces of chunk light contains 11 mg of heart-healthy niacin along with protein, selenium, and vitamin B12.
● Disease-fighting capabilities: Niacin helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. It also helps to process fat and combat heart disease and diabetes.
In the future, don’t go for just a plain old boring green salad. Instead, get as many colors as possible into your bowl with the healthiest ingredients. And, for other healthy alternatives in dressing choices, consider our line of dressings for a little variety in your salad.