BUILD A BETTER SALAD
By Esther, Rouses Dietitian
PILE ON THE PRODUCE
Research shows that those who include a generous amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets are more likely to have lower risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and cancer. So pile on the produced! Choose fruits and vegetables of every color to get all of the benefits. Each color offers a vitamin and mineral that you can’t get anywhere else.
Red: Contains a carotenoid called lycopene. It’s an antioxidant that is associated with a reduced risk of cancer (particularly prostate) and heart disease.
Orange/Yellow: Contains beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene which can be converted in the body into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for healthy vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health.
Green: Colored by chlorophyll, these fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids that are related to the functions of the heart and blood.
Blue/Purple: Contains phytochemicals called anthocyanins that acts as an antioxidant and may play a key role in heart health and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
White: Get their color from anthoxanthins, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent heart disease and certain types of cancers.
PICK YOUR PROTEIN
When it comes to creating a healthy salad, not all protein is equal. Aim to add lean cuts of meat like chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin, or grilled sirloin. These cuts of meat are lower in saturated fats, which have been proven to raise cholesterol and can contribute to heart problems.
Love seafood? We do too! Rouses has an excellent selection of fresh and cooked fish and shrimp, which are packed with protein and loaded with heart healthy fats. An increased intake in seafood has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating seafood at least twice a week.
Meat isn’t the only source of protein. Protein is also found in nuts, cheese, beans, and even some grains. Adding sunflower seeds or a small portion of Parmesan cheese is a great way to add protein that won’t ruin the goal of the salad. If these options don’t sound appealing, try adding some cooked quinoa, one of the few plant proteins that are a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. The ancient grain has a mild flavor and a thick husk, which gives it a slight crunch to add some texture to your greens.
THE BEST-DRESSED LIST
You’ve come so far in building the perfect salad, don’t ruin it with your choice of salad dressing. Turn that bottle around and look at the ingredients. Can you pronounce every ingredient? If you can pronounce it, do you know what each ingredient is? Though they may be tasty, many pre-packaged salad dressing are full of preservatives, sodium, fat, and sugar in order to make it “shelf stable,” meaning it can sit on the shelf for a long time before going bad. Aim for salad dressings that have very few ingredients and be careful of low fat dressings too. It’s common for a low fat dressing to be higher in sugar or sodium. Remember, these shelf stable items need some sort of preservative to stay “fresh.”
The best salad dressings are usually the ones you create yourself. Salad dressings are not difficult to make. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your leaves. This will give you a good dose of heart healthy fats and provide an extra dimension of flavor. If you aren’t a fan of balsamic, try olive oil and lemon juice and include some cracked pepper. These are fresh takes on salad dressing that are much lower in costs than the items you’ll find on the shelf that contain bad fats and a list of 20 ingredients.