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Myth-Busting for a More Nutritious Salad

September brings a bounty of fresh produce…crucifers like broccoli and cauliflower, orange vegetables like sweet potato and pumpkin, and fruits like apples and pears. Yet, reports suggest that Americans fall short – daily – on the amount of vegetables and fruits they eat.

In fact, on average, adults in the United States eat vegetables 1.6 times per day and fruit 1.1 times per day, which is far fewer than the recommendation for 2.5 cups of vegetables per day and 2 cups of fruit per day. Accumulate these daily shortcomings, and we are left with a big gap – or rather, an opportunity – in nutrition.

An easily solution: salads. Salads can combine your favorite vegetables and fruits into a mix that features a variety of flavors, textures and temperatures. But when it comes to building salads, there are many myths that I hear often. So, I am here today to set the record straight to help you build a better salad!

Myth: Iceberg lettuce is not nutritious.

Fact: It is! In fact, two cups of iceberg lettuce provide over 10% of an adult’s dietary requirement for folate and nearly 40% of the requirements for vitamin K.  It also lends a decent amount of vitamin A, too!  While its greener lettuce counterparts may deliver more nutrition, that does not mean we should dismiss iceberg lettuce entirely – especially when it acts as a vehicle for other healthy ingredients.  

Myth: You must add meat or poultry to salads in order to get enough protein.

Fact: Many plant foods provide an adequate amount of protein to help fuel you throughout the day! Add beans, nuts, lentils and seeds to help you get your protein in meatless salads. Need numbers to prove it? Just ½ cup of black beans delivers over 7 grams of protein, ¼ cup of almonds provides 8 grams of protein, ½ cup of lentils delivers 9 grams of protein and 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds delivers 10 grams of protein.   

Myth: You should avoid all salad dressings. They are unhealthy.

Fact: Salad dressings feature oils that contain fat. And while fat does contain more calories per gram than other nutrients, that does not mean that fat is unhealthy. In fact, you need fat for a number of reasons, one of which is to help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which may be found in some of your salad ingredients. I like to dress my salads with oils from avocados, olives or hemp, and keep my portion to around 2 tablespoons or less. I recommend making salad dressings at home when you can. Combine a healthy oil, a zesty juice (like lime or lemon) and your favorite herbs or spices. Or, when you are short on time, look for ready-to-use salad dressings that feature similar home-fresh ingredients.  

Myth: You should not put crunchy carbohydrates – like croutons – on your salad.

Fact: You can. In fact, a salad with many flavors and textures may be more appealing to you that one without. However, when it comes to adding carbohydrates to any meal (salads included!), I recommend that you make your carbohydrate choice full of fiber. That means that you may want to consider swapping your low-fiber enriched flour croutons for roasted, seasoned chickpeas – you will get the crunch you crave plus fiber to support a healthy digestive system and a healthy heart. Other crave-worthy, crunchy carbohydrate additions to a salad may include sliced apples, carrot coins, whole grain cracker crumbles, or chopped pears.  

Myth: Salad is boring.

Fact: Salad can and should be delicious! Since they are customizable, you can use the foods that entice you the most whenever you build your salad. Add on pomegranate arils, roasted sweet potato, broccoli or radish.  Your options for fun, delicious salads are limitless! And with each real-food color you add to your salad, you create a visually appealing (not boring!) salad – plus you add in unique phytochemicals (i.e. special substances you can get only from plants) to your mix, too! 

 

Have you heard of these salad myths before? Any others? What is your favorite salad combination? Connect with me about all things salad over on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC and in the meantime, check out these delicious salad recipes from Foxy Produce!  

·         Autumn Power Salad 

·         Green Kale Salad 

·         Warm BroccoLeaf Salad 

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2013. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/state-indicator-report-fruits-vegetables-2013.pdf. 

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

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