Most people think of salads as a healthy option when dining out. While they can be a nutritious option, not all salads are created equal. Some types of salads are lower in nutrients and higher in calories, which is the exact opposite of what you want when you are pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Learn what makes a salad healthy and what to look for when ordering a salad so that you can make the best choices for your health.
Choose the Right Lettuce
The base of your salad should be some form of lettuce or leafy greens. However, not all greens are created equal. Iceberg lettuce, while popular, is nutritionally deficient. Choose a salad with powerhouse greens, such as spinach, kale, or spring mix, as the base to ensure that you are benefitting from a wide variety of nutrients. The darker the greens, the more nutrients they are likely to contain.
Add Some Protein
If you want to really give your salad a nutritional boost, look for options to add lean protein. Grilled chicken is always a favorite, but you don’t have to limit yourself to the standard options. Think outside the box and add steak, hard boiled eggs, legumes, or even grains such as quinoa. Not only will protein add flavor, it will help you feel full longer.
Don’t Skip the Fats
Fat free salad dressings may sound like a healthy choice, but in reality healthy fats will enable your body to better absorb nutrients from your meal. WebMD highlights the necessity of healthy fats, stating, “A new study shows that eating fresh vegetables with a little fat, such as oil-based salad dressings or cheese, helps the body absorb valuable nutrients found in vegetables, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, which have been shown to help prevent heart disease and cancer. In contrast, eating a salad without any fat in it may deprive your body of these healthy nutrients, which are known as carotenoids.” Choose a full fat salad dressing, or add some avocado slices to your salad to improve nutrient absorption.
Make It Colorful
Eating foods representing all the colors of the rainbow is one way to ensure that your body is receiving a wide range of essential nutrients. Add different colors of fresh vegetables to your salad to give your salad a nutrient boost as well as added flavor and crunch. You can also try experimenting with new ingredients based on what is in season at the time. Not only are in season vegetables better tasting, they also typically have more nutrients than out of season produce.
Get the Most Out of Your Salad
When you are looking to establish a healthy lifestyle, you want to ensure that your food choices support your end goal. Choosing a salad when ordering out is one way to make a choice that supports your end goal. However, not all salads are created equal. By following our basic tips, you can make sure that your salad is not only delicious, but nutritious as well.