5 Delicious Salads with Positive Health Effects
If you want to stay fit and healthy, your diet most likely includes a series of green leaves with various dressings. In short, salads. Eating salads is beneficial by itself – greens have serious amounts of minerals and vitamins, vital for our bodies to function properly. But beyond that, some greens (and not so greens) come with extra benefits on top of the above.
Kale – the star of today’s salads
Kale is maybe the most discussed superfood today. This impressive leafy green has loads of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, plus antioxidant properties which are thought to help prevent cancer. Beyond all that, it also contains substances called “bile acid sequestrants”, which prevent bile acid (which is created by our liver using cholesterol) from being reabsorbed by the body. Through this action these substances reduce the amount of cholesterol in our body – and lower the risk of heart disease in the long run.
Dandelion leaf – hidden in plain sight
You notice it in the spring, when it is among the first flowers to pop up their small, yellow heads in the park. You notice it when it’s “ripe” – children, and even adults love to blow away its seeds. But did you ever consider it to be a salad ingredient? Or even a medicinal plant?
Dandelion leaf is consumed as a salad in many parts of the world. It contains a series of vitamins and other nutrients, plus antioxidants and substances to support digestion. But the biggest benefit of this humble little plant comes from its support for the liver function. Loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants, it has several beneficial effects, from aiding digestion to its mild diuretic action. Not to mention that its root has been shown to kill cancer cells.
Arugula – More than just a “rocket”
Arugula, or “salad rocket” as it is called, looks similar to the leaves of the dandelion, but has a very different – spicier – taste. It is loaded with nutrients, antioxidants and other substances that make it not just tasty, but healthy as well.
This tangy leaf comes with a series of health benefits. First of all, its high nitrate content can reduce blood pressure and improve athletic performance. Second, it contains the substance called “sulforaphane”, a sulfur-containing compound that gives it more than just its bitter taste. Sulforaphane is studied for its cancer-impeding properties, with promising results.
Spinach – not just for Popeye!
The health benefits of spinach have been shown long ago – even if slightly overdone, like in the case of our favorite sailorman. Spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and iron, important for skin, hair and bone health. But its benefits go beyond that.
While it doesn’t have any specific substances that would make it a medicinal plant, spinach has a nutritional profile that makes it very useful. Its vitamin content helps prevent various eye and skin disorders. It promotes bone health, lowers the blood pressure, and helps prevent cancer and asthma.
Chives – Tasty and healthy
Chives are a great addition to any salad, with their bright green color and distinctive aroma. And they are quite nutritious, too – they have serious amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially iron and calcium.
Beyond their taste and nutritional value, chives are also known to help us maintain our health. Its ally sulfides and alkyl sulfoxides are known to protect our circulatory system, while its other alkaloids act as a mild stimulant and a diuretic. Just like garlic – its sister – chives also have antiseptic properties.
Next time you have to choose between a burger and a salad, make sure you think of all the extra benefits the greener choice has for you. And choose wisely!