10 Healthiest Leafy Greens You Should Be Putting In Your Salad
How to Choose the Healthiest Salad Greens
Salads are a great way to get several servings of veggies in one meal. But how to you know which greens are the best for you? Choosing the healthiest salad greens starts with defining what you want from your salads. You might be interested in salad greens that are low in calories or high in nutrients. Mix it up when choosing salad greens to avoid boredom. Plan on making smoothies, soups, and other foods in addition to salads.
Figuring Out Your Priorities
Look for low-calorie greens.If your idea of healthy is synonymous with low in calories, you might choose red leaf lettuce. This lettuce, like all varieties of lettuce, is mostly water. But it has half the calories of an equal serving of romaine lettuce, and about 40% of the calories you’d get in an equal serving of iceberg lettuce. It also has vitamin A and vitamin K in ample amounts.
- Arugula, likewise, is low in calories, and weighs in at just six calories per cup.It also has a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals that could prevent certain types of cancer.
- Possibly the lowest-calorie salad green is watercress. Watercress is an aquatic plant native to Asia and Europe. It has just four calories per cup.
Examine nutrients.If you’re looking for salad greens packed with vitamins and minerals, you’ll need something more substantial than arugula and iceberg lettuce. Instead, you’ll need to choose spinach. Spinach has lots of vitamin K, C, A, and B-complex vitamins. It also has a hefty dose of calcium and iron.
- Another nutritious salad green is romaine lettuce. Unlike iceberg lettuce, romaine has lots of vitamin A – 81% of your daily dose per cup, in fact.It has ample quantities of vitamin K, too.
- Spinach has more vitamin K per serving than any other salad green.
- Romaine lettuce has more vitamin A and more vitamin C per serving than any other salad green.
- Romaine and spinach are just about tied for having the most folate per serving.
Create your own mix.If you want a low-calorie salad and a nutritious salad, employ a mixture of salad greens to make your salad base. For instance, you could mix one cup of arugula, one cup of chopped romaine lettuce, and once cup of spinach in a tasty salad. Or you could mix one cup of kale, one cup of iceberg lettuce, and one cup of radicchio. Remember, there is no wrong way to mix salad greens. Use whichever will help you meet your health goals – and whichever taste most delicious to you.
Consult your doctor.You should speak with your doctor if you have any health issues or concerns. They can help you figure out the best greens for you. If you have kidney stones, for instance, you should avoid spinach and Swiss chard.And if you take warfarin, the vitamin K content in spinach and certain other greens might negatively impact the efficacy of the medication. To avoid problems, talk to your doctor before choosing the healthiest salad greens.
Figure out your own nutritional needs.Salad greens should be incorporated into your meals as part of a balanced diet that also includes fruits, other veggies, whole grains, and a small amount of lean protein. Your exact caloric needs depend on your age, sex, activity level, and weight.
- Use a caloric intake chart like the one produced by the American Diabetes Association to determine your caloric needs based on the relevant data.
- There is no daily nutritional requirement for salad greens. Instead, there is only a requirement for vegetables. If you wish, however, you could use salad greens to satisfy your daily nutritional requirement for vegetables.
- Most adults require two to three cups of vegetables per day. However, this metric counts two cups of raw salad greens or one cup of cooked salad greens as a single cup. In other words, you will need to consume four to six cups of raw salad greens in order to meet the average daily nutritional requirement.
- If you are very active, you will need to consume more food – including more vegetables – than someone who is less active.
Choose fresh greens.Whether you’re buying loose, bagged, or packaged salad greens, it is important to ensure that they are fresh. Check the salad greens to ensure there are no wilted leaves. Bagged salad greens should be refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Don’t bother checking the “use-by” or “sell-by” dates before purchasing salad greens. These dates are generally of no use when trying to determine the freshness of salad greens.
- Instead, use your eyes to identify salad greens that are wilted or rotten.
Store your salad greens properly.Frozen salad greens must remain in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Fresh salad greens need to be refrigerated at 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (zero to four degrees Celsius). There are several options for you to store your salad greens in the refrigerator.
- If you have unpackaged salad greens, wash and dry them before attempting to store them.
- You could choose to store your salad greens in a plastic container lined with paper towels. For instance, you might line a plastic storage container intended for use in the fridge with paper towels, then pour a layer of salad greens into the container. On top of that, place another paper towel and top it with more salad greens. Continue in this way until the container is full.
- You could also place your salad greens directly into your crisper drawer. The crisper drawer is the bottom-most drawer in your fridge. Just empty it of its contents, line it with paper towels, and add alternating layers of salad greens and paper towels.
- Stored properly, your salad greens will last over 10 days.
Eat seasonally.If you buy salad greens out of season, they will cost more. Shop at farmers markets whenever possible to save money and get only in-season produce. For instance, try buying winter greens like kale, collards, chard, and rapini during the winter.
- Additionally, purchasing your salad greens at local farmers markets will keep money in your local community.
Eat a salad.As their name suggests, salad greens are useful for creating salads. You could use your salad greens to create a Caesar salad, a summer salad, or a sweet citrus salad.
- For instance, make a sweet citrus salad by mixing one cup of kale, one cup of romaine lettuce, one sliced orange, ¼ cup sliced almonds, and one tablespoon poppyseed dressing.
- If you choose to add dressing to your salads, ensure it is low in calories and fat. Use a lighter vinaigrette and avoid heavy, creamy dressings like thousand island.Check the nutrition facts label on the dressing bottle to discover the fat and calorie levels.
- To keep your salads low in calories and fat, avoid topping them with bacon, cheese, fried chicken, or tuna salad.
Make a smoothie.A smoothie is a type of blended drink. Some salad greens taste good in smoothies. For instance, mix two cups of spinach, three ice cubes, one banana, one cup of milk, and three strawberries in a blender on high for about twenty seconds. Pour the smoothie into a cup and drink it.
- Not all greens are good in smoothies. Kale and spinach are the most common salad greens used in smoothies. Explore other options through experimentation, swapping out recommended greens for others in an equal amount.
- You could use frozen or refrigerated salad greens in your smoothies.
Steam your greens.Collards or spinach can be a bit chewy when raw, but when steamed for a few minutes, they soften right up. Place one or two cups of spinach or collards on a steaming tray. Fill a pan with ¼ cup of water and boil it. Place the steaming tray over the pan. Check the salad green you’ve selected for steaming every few minutes to ensure it does not wilt too much.
- There is no correct way to define how much wilting constitutes “too much.” Some people prefer their salad greens very wilted when they steam them. Others prefer crisper salad greens.
- Alternately, you could place a few cups of spinach or kale in a large microwave-safe bowl with four to eight tablespoons of water. Cover the bowl loosely with a paper plate or piece of baking parchment. Microwave the salad greens for about five minutes. Pour out excess water and consume the steamed salad greens.
Eat the right volume of salad greens.According to the USDA, a healthy person will eat two cups of salad greens per day. Of course, if you eat a bit more, there’s nothing wrong with that.
- Eat a variety of salad greens. If you eat the same salad greens every day, you will get bored of eating them.
- To keep your salad-green consumption enjoyable, swap out the greens you eat from time to time.
- For instance, if you usually eat a salad of kale and romaine lettuce, try a salad of spinach and iceberg lettuce instead.
Video: The Best Greens for Salad is...
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