Why salad is good for us!
We all know by now that it is important to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and salad can count towards this. But have you ever wondered what is actually contained in those lettuce leaves that is so good for you?
Studies have been carried out to investigate the link between the amount of salad and raw vegetables eaten by both men and women and the nutrients present in the blood stream after this. From this is has been shown that those who eat these foods on a regular basis have a higher level of vitamin C and E, folic acid and beta carotene in their bloodstream. Before this there had been concerns about the body's ability to absorb nutrients from salad, but the levels present in those tested proved that regular salad eaters were benefiting from the nutrients and were obviously able to utilise them in the body.
“ Vitamin C is a useful antioxidant for humans and helps your body to perform certain function such as protection of cells and maintaining healthy cells and aiding the absorption of iron into the body. It is found in a lot of salad and vegetable items such sprouts, peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit and oranges. ”
Vitamin E has a number of functions and one of these is to act as an antioxidant within the body. Vitamin E can be found in the wide range of foods and the richest source of this is in plant oils such as soya or olive oil. However, it is also very rich in nuts and seeds, which are particularly good in salads!
Beta-carotene is actually changed into vitamin A when it enters the body and thus performs all the same functions such as maintaining the health of your skin, helps to protect you from infections and also assists sight in dim light. It is found mainly in yellow and green coloured vegetables and this is what gives these veg their colour! For instance spinach, peppers and mango are high in this fab nutrient.
“As salad is so good for you, it is just as well its so versatile and varied! A salad can consist of many things and is so much more than wilted lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber! It can contain vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, pasta, potatoes, meats and cheese to name just a few! ”
The three most popular are:
Garden salad - This is also often called a green salad and is usually presented on some leaf lettuce, it contains items such as mushrooms, tomatoes, grated beetroot, spring onion, carrots and radishes. If you are going to add a dressing make sure it’s low fat or fat free. Other types of salad may be based on a food product rather than on salad or vegetables.
Greek Salad - In a traditional Greek salad lettuce will be omitted from the dish. This will be sliced tomatoes and cucumber with red onion. This will be seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano and finished with olive oil. Feta cheese, peppers, capers, anchovies or sardines may also be added.
Potato Salad - A potato salad is another version of salad without lettuce and is prepared differently around the world. Some people will cook small salad potatoes and others will cook larger potatoes and chop them up. Mayonnaise is the usual dressing for potato salad, but to make it healthier use the extra light versions or try a low fat vinaigrette style dressing.
Try using different types of green leaves for your salad: Iceberg, baby spinach, chinese leaf, rocket, sorrel, fresh herbs and romaine to name but a few. Make it look appealing and you will enjoy it so much more.