One of the dishes that scream fresh, nutritious and healthy is the salad. In addition to this, it is quite easy to make regardless of the ingredients you choose to use. In most cases salads are made of vegetable and fruit servings. This means that you merely just wash them, dress, toss and enjoy them. Over time, most people have developed the practice of eating nutritious and healthy salads. This is primarily because of their health benefits.
All this is well and good but you must note that not all salads are exactly nutritious and healthy. Some are just calorie bombs that have been branded as healthy salads. This should tell you that you need to watch out where you buy and/or how you prepare your salads in order to reap their health benefits.
In this article, we will be analyzing the health benefits of salads. Even more so we will be discussing the specific healthy and flavorful salads and their health benefits. Read on and discover what the best and healthiest salads are and how to prepare them for maximum health gains.
The Healthy Salads You Need And Why You Need Them
As mentioned earlier, not every salad you have is healthy. It all comes down to what food products you use to make your salad. Some ingredients may have high levels of fat, sugar, sodium, and calories (2). As such, they may compromise your dietary goals.
For example, if you consume a salad with high sodium content, you may jeopardize the effectiveness of your low-sodium diet plan. Similarly, if you eat a high-calorie salad, you could affect your weight loss results.
As such it is imperative to note the ingredients you use to prepare your salads. You need to use fresh and nutritious products that will allow you to reap the maximum nutrition and health benefits. Some of these salads include:
A Spinach or Kale Salad
One of the best salads to have when you want to increase your vegetable intake is the spinach or kale salad. These two vegetables tend to have numerous nutrients (2). They are also quite delicious and healthy. Eating a spinach or kale salad has the following health benefits:
Spinach is a low-calorie vegetable. One cup of raw spinach has high water content and only 7 calories (9). Similarly, one cup of raw kale leaves also contains around 7 calories. Therefore, consider such a salad if you are on a low-calorie diet or when you want to lose weight.
Gives Your Body Essential Vitamins And Minerals
The other health benefit of spinach salad is from receiving crucial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Spinach is quite rich in iron and calcium. As such it can be a great substitute for any dairy or meat-free diet. It also gives your body vitamin K, A, C, magnesium and folate. Likewise, consuming a kale salad gives your body the vitamins C, A, and K.
Great Source Of Antioxidants
Such green salads tend to be quite rich in antioxidants. They are substances that help in protecting your body from damage arising from harmful molecules called free radicals (1). These free radicals are responsible for health conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
A Lettuce Salad
There are various types of lettuce that you could choose to prepare your salad. One of the most commonly used types of lettuce is romaine.
A Romaine Lettuce Salad
As the name implies, the primary ingredient for this dish is romaine lettuce. It tends to be quite crisp and highly nutritious. Unlike other lettuce types, the romaine lettuce tends to have longer leaves which also taper towards its root. This leaf is preferred in most salads as it adds to the crunchiness. It is also loved due to its health benefits, which include:
High Nutritional Value
A romaine lettuce salad tends to have a high nutritional value. According to experts, consuming one serving of this dish or around 70 g gives you the following nutrients (8):
- Water: 65.4 g
- Fiber: 2.2 g
- Calcium: 43.4 mg
- Protein: 1 g
- Kilocalories: 13.3
- Vitamin A: 194 mcg
- Total carbohydrates: 2.7 g
- Iron: 0.6 mg
- Sodium: 17.5 mg
- Magnesium: 14 mg
- Vitamin C: 8.1 mg
- Vitamin K: 147 mcg
- Potassium: 229 mcg
- Phosphorus: 24.5 mg
- Beta-carotene: 2, 320 mcg
Rich Antioxidant Source
The other health benefit of eating a romaine lettuce salad is from receiving antioxidants. Romaine lettuce is rich in vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants. They also have vital roles in balancing and maintaining numerous body functions.
Improves Your Circulatory And Heart Health
Again, vitamins C and A in this lettuce produce antioxidants that help in preventing any cholesterol build up. They also help in preventing any formation of plaque in your arteries. These help in supporting your heart health.
Additionally, consuming the romaine lettuce salad gives your body high potassium content. Potassium is one of the minerals that are integral in the maintenance of your cardiovascular health.
Cancer prevention is also among the health benefits of lettuce salad consumption. Eating romaine lettuce also gives your body folate and antioxidants. These two might help in reducing your cancer risk (8).
Improves Your Eye Health
Eating a romaine lettuce salad allows your body to acquire vitamin A. Vitamin A is significant for eye health as it helps in preventing eye conditions like cataracts among seniors.
It also gives your body beta-carotene, a nutrient that helps prevent macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is among the primary causes of vision loss among the aged.
A Potato Salad
Another healthy and nutritious salad you can make and enjoy is the potato salad. Here is a simple recipe from the Mayo Clinic website on how to make this tantalizing salad (6):
- One pound of potatoes, diced and steamed or boiled, One cup of chopped large yellow onion, half a cup of diced carrots, half a cup of diced two ribs celery, two tablespoons of the minced fresh drill, one teaspoon ground black pepper, quarter cup low-calorie mayonnaise, one tablespoon Dijon mustard, and two tablespoons red wine vinegar.
- Mix all your ingredients in a large bowl. Chill after mixing them and then serve.
One of the health benefits of potato salad consumption is its impressive nutritional value. The nutritional chart of one cup or serving of this salad is as follows:
- Calories: 77
- Protein: 1 g
- Total carbohydrates: 14 g
- Total fat: 1 g
- Added sugars: 0 g
- Total sugars: 2 g
- Cholesterol: 2 mg
- Sodium: 127 mg
- Fiber: 2 g
- Trans fat: 0 g
- Saturated fat: Trace
Health Benefits Of Eating A Potato Salad
It has been long known that eating potatoes has tremendous health benefits. Some of these benefits include (4):
Improves Your Bone Health
The primary ingredient for the potato salad is the potato. Potatoes tend to contain phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and iron. Iron and zinc are responsible for collagen production and maturation in your body.
Likewise, calcium and phosphorus are two vital minerals in bone structure. However, with these two, you have to maintain a balance. Low calcium levels and high phosphorus content can lead to bone loss, contributing to osteoporosis.
Improves Your Heart Health
Potatoes contain fiber. Fiber is helpful for lowering the amount of cholesterol in your blood. As a result, it tends to decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Eating a potato salad also gives your body potassium, vitamin C and B6. These are some of the vitamins and minerals that support your heart health.
Helps With Inflammation
Eating a potato salad can also help you with inflammation. Potatoes tend to contain choline. A huge potato may contain at least 57 mg of this mineral. An adult female needs 425 mg of choline daily while an adult male requires 550 mg (4).
So, eating such a salad can help you attain your daily choline intake. Choline helps your body in various ways. It helps with any inflammation, in transmitting your nerve impulses, and in the maintenance of the structure of cellular membranes.
Improves Your Digestion
Again, potatoes contain fiber that helps in preventing constipation. It also helps in promoting some regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Helps With Satiety And Weight Management
The dietary fiber obtained from consuming a potato salad helps with increasing your satiety. As a result, it reduces your appetite, making you more likely to consume fewer foods and calories. Consuming fewer calories can help with weight management and control.
Gives Your Body Antioxidants
Potatoes have vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants support healthy digestion, better cardiovascular functioning, and prevent cell damage and cancer risk.
If you love seaweed, then you would love to know that there are numerous health benefits of seaweed salad. They include:
Rich Source Of Nutrients And Minerals
A seaweed salad is not only delicious but also highly nutritious. Each type of seaweed contains various vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the seaweed you choose for your salad dictates the minerals and vitamins you will acquire.
Nonetheless, most kinds of seaweed will provide your body with these helpful minerals and vitamins:
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Vitamin B, C, A, and E
If you want to boost your vitamins and minerals intake without adding calories, then choose marine algae (7). However, remember to talk to your dietitian or nutritionist before you make this dietary change as it is possible to eat too much and some people shouldn’t eat it at all.
Helping With Thyroid Function
Eating a seaweed salad gives your body iodine. Iodine is vital for thyroid functioning. However, it is not to mean that you overeat foods rich in iodine. You need to regulate your iodine intake. Typically, your iodine intake is influenced by the state of your thyroid.
If you consume too little iodine, you suffer from iodine deficiency, leading to goiter. Goiter is easily detectable as it leads to an enlargement of your thyroid glands. Likewise, if you consume excessive iodine, it may lead to hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism makes your thyroid glands overactive, leading to the excessive production of various hormones. So, you need to avoid a balance so as to avoid either goiter or hyperthyroidism. You are advised to talk to your nutritionist to determine your required or sufficient iodine intake.
Helps With Diabetes
Seaweed salads also provide your body with fiber. Fiber-rich foods play a significant role when it comes to people with diabetes. They help in regulating both the insulin and blood glucose levels. Regulating these two elements can help with diabetes management.
Supports Your Gut Health
You can also eat a seaweed salad to improve your gut health. A seaweed salad prepared primarily from algae can help with your gut health. It contains high amounts of fiber that help in feeding the bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are integral in breaking down food and supporting your digestion.
Helping With Weight Loss
Diet watchers will be pleased to know that regular consumption of a seaweed salad can help with weight loss. Experts acknowledge that the fiber from seaweed can come in handy if you are trying to shed some extra pounds (7).
According to these experts, it may help with weight loss in several ways or for various reasons. One of them is the fact that seaweed contains very few or no calories. It all depends on the type of seaweed you choose to make your salad.
Secondly, the fiber in seaweed increases your satiety. Hence, you feel full for a longer period, reducing your daily calorie intake. As we all know, one crucial tip for weight loss is maintaining a calorie deficit. These two tips can help you maintain a calorie deficit, eventually making you lose weight.
The last healthy salad option in this list that we will analyze its health benefits is the tuna salad. Before we look at the health benefits of tuna salad, let us analyze one tune salad recipe. It has been obtained from the WebMD website. It is as follows (5):
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain yoghurt, two tablespoons tahini or fruity extra virgin olive oil, one teaspoon lemon juice, two garlic cloves, finely chopped, one teaspoon ground cumin, one 6 oz can solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked, one 8 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, quarter cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
- Mix your yoghurt, olive oil or tahini, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix. Stir in your chickpeas, tuna and parsley and add your salt and pepper to add flavor.
The nutritional analysis of one cup or serving of this salad is as shown below:
- Calories: 220
- Fiber: 4 g
- Total carbohydrates: 19 g
- Total fat: 7 g
- Saturated fat: 1 g
- Mono Fat: 2 g
- Protein: 21 g
- Sodium: 531 mg
- Total sugars: 2 g
- Cholesterol: 18 mg
- Potassium: 392 mg
Health Benefits Of Tuna Salad
The advantages of eating a tuna salad include (3):
Lowers Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Tuna as used in the preparation of this salad has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help in reducing LDL cholesterol accumulation in the arteries of your heart. Consequently, it reduces your risk of heart disease.
Improves Eye Health
These omega-3 fatty acids also help in preventing any vision problems. It has been considered as an easy way to improve the overall health of your retina.
Aids In Weight Loss
Weight watchers are often asked to consume more lean protein. Tuna is an example of such a lean protein. Although it has high protein content, it also has fewer calories. The high protein content keeps you full, limiting how often you eat and how much you consume. It can, therefore, help you watch and control your weight.
Reduces The Risk Of Cancer
Eating tuna salad can also reduce your cancer risk. It is because of the omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna. They help in slowing down the growth of tumor cells. They also help in reducing inflammation in your body. This helps in reducing cancer as most cancer types arise from chronic inflammation.
The Bottom Line
Some of the healthiest salad options you can have include seaweed, tuna, green, potato, and lettuce salad. They all have vast health benefits. These range from reducing cancer risk, attaining various vitamins and minerals, helping with weight loss, to improving eye and heart health.
Before you consume a salad for its benefits, remember to consult with a licensed dietitian or nutritionist. They will assist you and help in making sure you reap your desired health benefits of salad consumption.
Sticking to a healthy diet based on your health needs, allergies and preferences is a great idea, however when combined with a workout plan that meets your goals, it might bring you significant benefits. Better mood, stronger muscles and endurance are just some.