With summer soon approaching it is a perfect time to become green leaf savvy for any patio meal. But often we get stuck in a rut of buying the same old salad greens–and our body gets bored.
A good rule of thumb when out shopping is to find ones richer in color as this means it is packed with more nutrition punch. In my ten years of being in the nutrition field, it still surprises me how often families continue to buy iceberg lettuce, or the salads in a bag with the main component being iceberg lettuce. There are better options out there.
Dark green leafy vegetables hold valuable fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K. Being fat soluble means they need fat to be present to obtain ideal absorption so be sure to accompany your salad with a healthy fat such as nuts or olive oil. This greenery is also packed with folate, iron, potassium, fiber and the greatly needed calcium – which is lacking in both young and old.
Some better Salad Pickings:
1) Endive – with a mild and bitter taste it is packed with more fiber than other leafy greens according to the USDA nutrient database. It is truly a great salad complimented by olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a dash of sea salt.
2) Cabbage – its bitter taste only matches its rich antioxidant profile that acts as a great protector against breast, lung and prostate cancer. It is a great mixture to many salad greens and tasty to many cooked vegetable medleys and stir-fries.
3) Dandelion greens – with a light tangy-like taste it holds more than 100% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin A in 1 cup. Add on top of that it has 100 mg of calcium to not only protect the bones and teeth, but aid in proper muscle contractions.
4) Kale – with a very mild flavour this garden pleasure belongs to the cabbage family and is versatile as it works well raw or cooked. Loaded with potassium it is sure to assist in healthy blood pressure, and provides you Vitamin K, A and C.
5) Spinach – with a mild sweet flavour it is a favourite raw in salads and sandwiches or wraps and often requested in dip or appetizer form. Packed with folate it can help regulate homocysteine levels in our blood that lessen our risk of heart attacks and stroke.
With these leafy greens as an option there is no need to get caught in the same old salad rut. Be creative and mix the greens together and the addition of pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or sesame seeds can truly bring your salad to life. Get greened up for summer.
Learn More about Karla Heintz
About Karla Heintz:
Karla Heintz, BSc Nutrition, is a Calgary-based TV/Radio health and wellness personality, speaker, writer and consultant for athletes and families. She is the author of ‘Picky? Not Me, Mom! - A parents' guide on children's nutrition. www.nutritionwithk.com