Your guide to healthy salads
What type of salad is the healthiest?
The healthiest salads start with dark leafy greens and incorporate vibrant colored vegetables and/or fruit. Healthy salads may also contain grains like quinoa or nuts. A healthy salad has a dressing that’s not loaded with large amounts of oil, mayonnaise or other type of fat.
Best are Spinach or Kale. When it comes to leafy greens, darker is better. They have the most nutrients. Case in point: Kale and spinach have over 10 times more immune-boosting vitamins A and C than iceberg lettuce. Not a fan of those? Turn over a new leaf: Boston, bibb, and romaine lettuces have a mild flavor, while arugula and watercress have a peppery bite.
Add a mix of veggies to your salad to get more nutrition and flavor. Top those leafy greens with crunchy produce like carrots, cucumbers, or broccoli. Then add a punch of color from tomatoes, bell peppers, beets, or red onion. While you’re at it, toss in last night’s leftovers, such as roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or asparagus.
Fruit and nuts
Use Fresh Fruit and Nuts. The fruit adds sweetness and antioxidants. The nuts give you protein, fiber, and healthy fat. This mix of nutrients makes your salad more satisfying and healthy. In fact, research shows that eating nuts regularly can help fend off heart disease and cancer. Try pairing berries with almonds, apples with walnuts, and peaches with pecans.
The best salad dressing are vinaigrette style dressings that are made with a heart healthy oil like olive oil. Steer clear of dressing that contain mayonnaise, cheese and other high calorie ingredients.
Although it’s always the best option to whip up healthy salad dressings at home from vinegar, herbs, and a healthy oil, it is also easy enough to find a healthy, tasty store-bought kind — if you read the nutritional facts label carefully.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
Calories: Aim for fewer than 45 calories per tablespoon (tbsp), suggests Caplan, that for the right kind of fat, you can go a bit above this threshold.
Added Sugar: Shoot for fewer than 5 grams (g) of sugar per serving at maximum, says Caplan.
Sodium: look for a dressing with less than 5 percent of your daily value (DV) of sodium — that’s 115 milligrams (mg) — per serving. If the DV is higher, you may want to choose another dressing, or eat less than the serving size, she adds.