Healthy Hack #4: Eat a Salad a Day
I like salads. I eat them for lunch, and I eat them for dinner. I’ve even been known to eat them for breakfast. There are so many reasons why eating salad is a great healthy habit for everything from losing weight to filling up on healthy nutrient-dense vegetables. But these aren’t the main reasons why I make a salad every day. The truth is that I’m lazy. I don’t always want to cook. And I usually don’t want to clean pots and pans. And I don’t always want to think about what to make. And I’m busy. But I do want something easy, fast, delicious, and filling. So I make a salad. And I make a lot of it, so there are leftovers for a second and even a third meal. This laziness has resulted in a habit that is also a key to daily healthy eating, weight management, disease prevention, and youthful energy. And a light, refreshing salad is the perfect meal as the weather warms up. So “Eat a Salad Every Day” is healthy eating hack #4!
Last month, I wrote about how to create the perfect salad. As long as you have some greens and fresh colorful vegetables in your refrigerator and a few pantry staples, like beans, nuts, and seeds, a delicious, nutrient-dense, 1-bowl salad meal can come together quickly and easily.
Eating a large serving of fresh, raw vegetables each day can have significant health benefits. It makes a substantial contribution to disease prevention, healthy weight, and youthful energy – and who isn’t interested in trying not to get sick, losing a little weight, or gaining a bit more energy and vitality these days?
In addition to not having to cook or clean pots and pans, here are 6 health benefits of having a daily salad:
Natural source of fiber – Leafy greens and raw vegetables are an excellent source of natural fiber. It is important to consume enough fiber each day to reduce your cholesterol, control your blood sugar, prevent the occurrence of some types of cancer, and keep you regular. Plus, eating lots of fiber helps with weight loss.
Nutritional benefits – Most experts agree that Americans need to eat more fruits and vegetables to be healthy, and a daily salad is an easy way to do this. By eating colorful salads full of a variety of vegetables, you can boost your blood levels of a host of powerful antioxidants, such as Vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene. Researchers have demonstrated that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, eye problems, and digestive distress, as well as the risks of many diseases, including some cancers.
Weight management – Full of fiber and water, the raw vegetables in a salad will fill you up fast so you will eat less of the ‘other’ stuff. Having a salad as a main dish will provide a meal low in calories and high in nutrients. Having a salad before a meal will ensure that you consume less of your entrée which is likely higher in fat and calories.
Easy way to eat healthy fats – Adding some nuts and seeds, olives, and avocado to your salad will not only make it more filling but will also help your body to absorb all of the beneficial nutrients in your vegetables.
Build strong bones – Dark leafy greens that form the base of many salads are an excellent plant-based source of calcium and Vitamin K which are important to maintain bone density and strength. In fact, dark leafy greens contain the most bioavailable form of calcium, much more so than dairy. This is important as we age to reduce our risk for osteoporosis.
Improve exercise performance – Most of us have heard that you need to consume protein to build and repair muscles. But if you only focus on protein and skip fruits and vegetables, you won’t get the most out of your workouts. Research has shown that the micronutrient content of fruits and vegetables plays an important role in optimizing exercise performance, energy production, and tissue recovery. Certain nutrients can’t be synthesized by the body so it’s essential that a person consumes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to support daily training and recovery. In fact, not eating enough fruits and vegetables can lead to fatigue, muscle damage, and lack of muscle strength.
How about a Salad-A-Day Challenge? I challenge you to eat 1 salad a day for 7 days. To set you up for success, check out my blog post about how to make the perfect salad and how not to sabotage your perfectly healthy salad with an unhealthy dressing. Post pictures of your salad on Facebook or Instagram and tag #SwanWellness. Send me an email with a picture of your salads. Need more support or inspiration, let me know. I’m always happy to help!