You are as strong as your limiting nutrient. Whether its lifting weights, running, or whatever you enjoy doing for fitness, if you’re low on vitamins and nutrients your performance will suffer. So despite the fact that many people think that salads should only be eaten by fat people trying to lose weight, old people with a slow metabolism, or skinny blogger girls- that is just totally WRONG! I make absolutely sure to toss a salad into my food log every so often.
A healthy salad is the easiest way to make sure you have all the vitamins and minerals you need to power you through a successful day. Notice I said healthy salad. Not all salads are healthy. Instead of focusing on the many salads that are loaded with extra calories and crap that we want to avoid, I’ll point out some of the best foods to include in your salad to maximize nutrient density and to promote high energy levels all day long.
So what are some nutrient dense foods that can give you an edge over the busy day ahead?
Red Onions: Onion breath is totally worth it! And here’s why. Onions are especially high in quercetin. Quercetin is a type of phytonutrient. And what are phytonutrients? Phytonutrients are found exclusively in certain plants. Quercetin, in particular, serves as an antioxidant that contains anti-inflammatory properties and also improves mitochondrial output (energy!). If you were to supplement with a vitamin you would still be missing out on the many benefits that come from phytonutrients.
Walnuts: Walnuts contain Omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid (our body cannot synthesize Omega-3 on its own and thus it is required that we obtain it through our diet). Reduced blood pressure, lowered triglycerides, and decrease for many chronic diseases no name a few of the benefits…
Grape Tomatoes: Tomatoes are one of few foods to contain high quantities of lycopene. Several studies show that people with tomato-rich diets are less likely to suffer from asthma related symptoms. Want to breathe better? Maybe tomatoes can help out!
Red & Green Peppers: Capsaicin is found in peppers. Capsaicin helps to improve insulin regulation. Insulin and blood sugar go hand in hand so a positive influence on insulin will contribute to improved blood sugar levels which can assist in preventing type two diabetes.
Chickpeas: Did you know that hummus is really just mashed up chickpeas? Maybe you’re thinking “duhhh” but I actually just learned that fact just a few months ago. Haha Chickpeas are a vegetarian-friendly protein source. Just one cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein!
Quinoa: Quinoa is currently the rave in the health and fitness world- and rightfully so! Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains a mother load of nutrients: iron, B-vitamins (the energy vitamins!), magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E. Looking for a healthy, low-glycemic carb? Pick quinoa!
Green Apples: We all know the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But really, studies suggest that eating an apple a day really does prevent doctor’s visits- BUT you’ve got to eat the peel. Vitamins, minerals, and fiber are all found in the peel. Interesting read if you want to learn more about the study: Click here for article
Spinach: Spinach is a complete POWER FOOD! Spinach contains more vitamins and minerals than any other food on this list! Low in calories and high in all the good stuff. I could write a whole article on spinach but I’ll spare you the deets for another blog post. *Pick salads that are spinach based rather than based with iceburg lettuce.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Many nutritionists claim extra virgin olive oil to be the healthiest fat on earth! Olive oil contains more of the healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) rather than the nasty, artery-clogging bad fats (saturated and trans). Fats slow down digestion and make it possible for fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to be put to use. Vitamins A, D, E, and K require dietary fat in order for our body to metabolize them. So yes, having a fat-free salad is actually a bad idea.
Avocado: One of the healthy ways to make sure your salad isn’t completely fat-free is to add avocados. Avocados contain more potassium than a banana and are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Avocados contain nutrients that are proven to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
These 10 “power foods” can definitely spruce things up a bit in that next salad you make but i'll be real with you- eating a salad definitely isn't this fun:
I don’t even think a fat boy eating chocolate cake for the first time would have that much fun. Those salad-loving fakers… smh.
I hope this information has helped you to see the benefit in creating a healthy salad. At the very least, you can share your new salad knowledge with people like this: