We all know that eating salad is smart. But depending on your goals (and health situation), salad can also be a potent secret weapon to fuel your body, mind and spirit for optimum performance. If you are someone that needs more fiber, add more beans. If you need more healthy oils, add nuts and canned or fresh fish. Adding beats and other root vegetables adds vitamins and nutrients to your diet, and anything with Vitamin K is good for the bones. For easy dining, a spring salad can be the main meal when you add your favorite meat or fish: even canned tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines will work.
During the grilling season, try putting radicchio, endive, scallions, onions and peppers on the barbie and mixing that into the salad to serve warm, or at room temperature. The good news is whatever you do, you can’t go wrong with spring salads. Turn the page and find out what ingredients will do a total makeover of basic salads into a pure health game changer.
1 Greens. Spinach, radicchio and watercress are rich in Vitamin K (aids in bone density). Spinach, romaine and red leaf contain lots of carotenoid Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin (vision). Kale is among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet (vitamins A, K, C, protein and fiber).
2 Tomatoes. Contains all four major carotenoids. Rich in potassium (a vital mineral). Has lycopene (makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage), and has been shown to improve bone mass.
3 Celery. Packed with minerals including magnesium, celery is said to have anti-inflammatory benefits, and may even aid in sleep. Each stalk contains healthy a dose of Vitamin A, as well as butylphthalide, which lowers LDL (bad cholesterol). Also linked to better sex.
4 Nuts. Dry roasted or raw contain omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. Walnuts are high in alpha linoleic acid arrhythmias. Peanuts are high in folate-a (may slow cognitive decline).
5 Radishes. Aids digestion. Rich in Vitamin C. Regular eating of radishes can help prevent viral infections. Low in calories, high in nutrients and fiber.
6 Turnips. Contains dietary nitrates that have multiple vascular benefits such as reducing blood pressure. Eating turnips decreases risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. High in fiber.
7 Avocado. High in potassium (supports healthy blood pressure). Loaded with Heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and lots of fiber. High in antioxidants (important for eye health).
8 Sugar Snap Peas. Reliable source of fiber, but low in fat and will keep you feeling full. Rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants.
9 Goat Cheese. Easier to digest than cow’s milk cheese. More Vitamin D & K, Thiamine and niacin than cheddar. Low in fat and cholesterol.
10 Scallions. One of the richest sources of Vitamin K (for bone health). Contains flavonoid, antioxidants and plant fiber.
11 Beets. Natures Viagra. High in Boron (directly related to the production of human sex hormones). High in vitamins and minerals. Contains Betaine (for depression), and Trytophan (for relaxation).
12 Carrots. Rich in beta-carotene (aids night vision and protects against macular Degeneration). Reduces risk of lung, breast and colon cancer.
13 Eggs. Excellent source of protein. Contains all eight essential amino acids. Among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They raise the HDL level (the “good” cholesterol).
14 Beans. Packed with protein, fiber, B-vitamins, iron, potassium and low in fat. Contain a wide range of cancer-fighting plant chemicals (Isoflavones and phytosterols). Provides body with soluble fiber, which helps control cholesterol levels.
15 Tofu. Excellent source of iron and calcium. Helps lower bad cholesterol. Isoflavones found in tofu can directly scavenge free radicals, preventing premature aging.
16 Cucumbers. 95% water. Ideal for hydrating and cooling. Contains anti-inflammatory flavonol (aids brain health). Antioxidants Vitamin C and beta carotene. Source of soluble fiber.
17 Peppers. Good source of Vitamin E. Capsaicin reduces bad cholesterol, controls diabetes and eases inflammation. Great antioxidant.
18 Asparagus. Loaded with nutrients. Very good source of fiber, folate, Vitamins A, C, E & K. Packed with antioxidants, which can neutralize cell damaging free radicals, and may help slow aging.
19 Blueberries. Loaded with fiber, but practically fat free. Tons of Vitamin C. Excellent source of manganese (converts carbs and fats into energy).
20 Strawberries. May reduce risk of heart disease in women due to high content of anthocyanins (improves cardiovascular health).
21 Mango. Antioxidant compounds protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers. High levels of fiber, pectin and Vitamin C. Helps to lower serum cholesterol (LDL — the “bad”one).