How A Simple Salad Can Boost Your Health

salad greens
Source – Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health – Harvard University

Iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce may spring to mind when you think about salad greens.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 25th Feb 2022.

How A Simple Salad Can Boost Your Health

Salad greens, on the other hand, come in hundreds of kinds. A healthy and balanced diet will have to consist of raw vegetable salad. When you have salad greens in your food portion, any added side dishes would not be as bad.

Increasing the variety of greens in your salad may boost its nutritious worth.

Different Types of Salad Greens

Salad greens come in a variety of varieties that you may buy at your local supermarket. These are some of the types:

  • Iceberg. The taste of this lettuce is moderate, and the texture is crisp.
  • Romaine. This is the primary vegetable in Caesar salads. It has a crisp texture and long, robust leaves.
  • Arugula. The taste of this salad green is spicy and strong.
  • Spinach. Spinach comes in two varieties. The leaves of Savoy spinach are wrinkled.
  • Radicchio. This lettuce is a red broadleaf variety. It has a bittersweet taste when eaten uncooked. Grilling or roasting this green is an excellent idea.
  • Butterhead. This lettuce has a buttery texture, a mild taste, and brilliant green leaves.
  • Watercress. This vegetable has a peppery taste to it.
  • There are two types of leaves: green and crimson. The loose leaves of this lettuce are more perishable than other lettuce varieties.
  • Curly endive. This bitter-tasting vegetable is also known as frisée.
  • Bok choy is a kind of Chinese cabbage. The crisp leaves have a flavour similar to celery.
  • Endive from Belgium. To avoid bitter taste and black foliage, this plant is cultivated in the dark.
  • Escarole. It belongs to the endive family and has a somewhat bitter flavour.

Does Salad Count as a Serving of Vegetables?

According to experts, adults should have 2 to 3 cups of veggies and 1 to 2 cups of fruits each day. However, just one out of every ten individuals follows these guidelines.

To create a 1-cup vegetable portion, you'll need 2 cups of salad greens.

What Are the Health Benefits of Salad Greens

Salad greens' nutritional content varies depending on the type. The leaves of plants with red or deeper green foliage have a greater concentration of minerals and vitamins.

Rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for eyesight, cell division, immunity, growth, and reproduction. Vitamin A consumption should be between 2,330 and 3,000 IU per day (700 to 900 micrograms).

A 100-gram serving of romaine or red and green leaf lettuce contains more than double the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.

Good source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting, bone growth, and the health of your blood vessels. Because your body can only keep a limited quantity of Vitamin K, you must get it via your diet. Vitamin K is required by adults in amounts ranging from 90 to 120 micrograms per day.

More than 100 micrograms of Vitamin K are found in a 100-gram meal of romaine, butterhead, or red and green leaf lettuce.

Rich in phytonutrients. These antioxidant-rich chemicals may be found in salad greens. Antioxidants may aid in the prevention of chronic diseases. The antioxidant content of red leaf lettuce is very high. ‌

Escarole is one of the top 100 polyphenol-rich foods on the market (another name for phytonutrients). Curly endive, green leaf, and red leaf lettuce are among the other salad greens on the list. ‌

It may help protect your brain. Researchers looked at 960 individuals who were on average 81 years old. They discovered that those who consumed leafy green vegetables regularly had superior brain function. The rate of cognitive deterioration was comparable to being 11 years younger for individuals who ate the leafiest greens.

How to Make a Healthier Salad

Add protein. Including lean protein in your diet may help you feel satisfied for longer. Toss in some fish, an egg, or skinless chicken to your salad. Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans may also be included. Almonds and walnuts are high in protein and include healthful fats.

Add grains. Salads with whole grains are more filling. Try it with quinoa, couscous made from whole wheat, or wild rice.

Add other vegetables. Salad leaves aren't the only option for veggies in a salad. The sweetness comes from roasted beets and squash. Cucumbers and carrots, raw, provide crispness.

Watch your dressing. The dressing may add additional calories and fat to a salad, no matter how healthy it is. Adding fat to your salad may aid your body's absorption of nutrients. However, no more than two tablespoons of dressing should be added. Instead of a creamy sauce, use a vinaigrette.

Salad Greens and Contamination

If it seems like outbreaks of salad-related sickness have become more common in recent years, that's because they have—at least 46 multi-state E. coli incidents using romaine and other leafy greens between 2006 and 2019. Greens may be the source of more food poisoning incidents than any other food.

This may be related to the increasing consumption of salad greens in the United States these days. Salad greens are also nearly usually consumed uncooked. Bacteria is killed during the cooking process for other items that may be contaminated, such as beef and eggs. Most germs can be removed by washing infected leaves, but just a tiny quantity of bacteria is required to get you ill.

Because the greens may come from various farms and be combined at a processing facility, bagged salads may be more contaminated. If the leaves are torn or chopped, germs will have additional entry points. ‌

Some of the germs that may make you ill can be found in leafy greens:

  • Salmonella
  • E.coli
  • Campylobacter
  • Listeria monocytogenes

How to Safely Handle Salad Greens

Here are some suggestions for making the most of your salad greens:

  • Refrigerate your salad greens within two hours after purchase.
  • Just before consumption, give it a good wash. Using cold water, saturate the leaves.
  • Separate the leaves to make it easier to remove the dirt.
  • Within one week after purchase, finish your salad greens.

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