Going Green!

August 09, 2012

Whether you're looking for a quick lunch or a refreshing dinner, salads really hit the spot on a hot summer day at a low caloric cost.  Up the nutritional value of this favorite hot weather meal by choosing your greens carefully! Sorry to say, but America’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, occupies the lowest tier for nutritional content. It's probably no surprise to hear that spinach resides near the top, with nearly twice the recommended daily value of vitamin K, half the recommended value of vitamin A, while being rich in calcium and iron. As with other vegetables, research has shown that lettuces of deeper or more vibrant colors contain more antioxidants and nutrients than lighter-color lettuce. This is due to the fact that darker leaves are able to absorb more light and thereby synthesize more vitamins.  And for a real boost in value in your salads, add Swiss chard or kale which are at the top of the list in lettuce rich in antioxidants. A few of the healthiest, easy-to-find greens include:
  • Collards are a  nutritional superstar, brimming with vitamins K, A, C and magnesium the also offer a health dose of  folate, calcium and dietary fiber.
  • Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables, with super strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Spinach is loaded with vitamin C and fiber, is a good source of calcium .
  • Chard offers a combination of traditional nutrients, including phytochemicals, chlorophyll, other plant pigments and soluble fiber -- making it a powerful anti-cancer food.
  • Watercress - a member of the cabbage family - is loaded with vitamins B6, C, magnesium, carotene, and folic acid.
  • Seaweed is highly nutritous and provides many minerals (most notably from iron), protein, fiber, and vitamins A, B6 and C. Add to your salad or saute with other vegetables for a powerful nutritional boost!
The benefits of increasing your salad intake are amazing!
  • Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found a 23% reduction in coronary heart disease in individuals who eat leafy greens regularly.Other research showed a significant reduction in the development of colon cancer in people eating a diet rich in leafy green vegetables.
  • Research also shows that  the folate in greens  may protect against cognitive decline in older adults.In another study, women who ate the most leafy greens had half the risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who ate the least.
  • Even more studies found that the powerful antioxidants in green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.
  • Want to detox your liver and thanks for all the good work it does?  Go green!
And remember, for a truly nutritious, low-cal salad, skip the creamy dressings, bacon bits, and  cheese and go for a lighter vinaigrette with a little grilled salman or walnuts.

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