iceberg lettuce

How to super-power your salad

Food, Nutrology

In our last post we talked about some better ways to cook vegetables, and today, continuing the vegetable theme, we offer a few hints on how to make a much healthier salad!

Having a salad once of twice a day is a great way to satisfy part of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. A salad provides you with fiber which helps satisfy your hunger (with minimum calorie intake), thus helping to keep your weight and blood sugar under control.

All types of salad are not the same. Some types are far healthier than others…

1. Avoid iceberg lettuce!

This type of lettuce is actually the least nutritious lettuce you can buy! Unfortunately, it is what most stores have in abundance, so you have to look a bit further in the vegetable section to find healthy varieties (or better, go to a farmer’s market).

Iceberg lettuce is so poor nutritionally because it is highest in sugar content, making it more caloric than other varieties, and has the lowest index of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And the more pale and white the leaves, the worse the nutrition.

2. Buy the darkest green variety of lettuce you can find. Romaine is best.

The darker the leaves, the more the leaves have soaked up precious sunlight, which converts substances in the lettuce to vitamins and antioxidants. Romaine lettuce, in particular, is very high in Vitamins A, B (especially folate), C, K, and minerals such as potassium. It is superior in antioxidant levels, and Romaine has about 10 times as much beta-carotene (particularly important for healthy eyes) as iceberg lettuce.

If you can’t find Romaine lettuce, first, ask your grocer to supply it, and second, buy the lettuce that has the darkest and thickest leaves. Lettuce with loose leaves (rather than in a head) is best, since all the leaves get better sunlight exposure.

3. Add fresh spinach leaves to your salad.

Spinach is one of the most nutrition-dense foods available, and has all the good properties of lettuce, just at a higher concentration along with a wider range of antioxidants. Spinach might make your salad somewhat bitter, so you might try adding a few leaves at first, then as your taste adapts over time, add a greater quantity of leaves. Note that people susceptible to kidney stones should avoid spinach, as it is high in oxalate, a common component of kidney stones.

4. Add complementary vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Arugula, radicchio, watercress, radish leaves, bell peppers, and broccoli (lightly microwaved or steamed), along with tomatoes will make your salads even more nutritious. If you can tolerate the taste, a few collard or kale leaves would be excellent, and if you top off your salad with some nuts and/or chia seeds, you will truly have a super-power salad.

So experiment to see what you like. Slowly add the new ingredients so your taste will adapt, and your stomach may need time to adapt to the greater amount of fiber in your diet. Shop at your farmer’s market if you can, and find the crispest, darkest leaves available!

Should you wish to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, use our main website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

The best way to cook vegetables is…

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Recommended doctors

These are some recommended doctors on ProcuraMed.