By Nicole Parmenter, Dietetic Intern for FitNutrition, LLC and Providence College Athletics with Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD
May is National Salad Month. It’s a great time to celebrate spring, salads and fresh produce. National Salad Month was launched in May 1992 by the Association of Dressings & Sauces in response to a poll revealing that 3 out of 4 people eat salad regularly and prefer dressings on their salads.
The beauty of salads is that they offer creativity and room to experiment. They’re very versatile and can encompass many ingredients such as protein, grains, fruit and nuts. Just think of your plate as your canvas. Add color, texture and try new toppings!
Looking for ways to boost your salad’s appeal? Start with greens rather than the traditional iceberg lettuce. Adding romaine, spinach, kale or shredded cabbage offers different flavor and texture as well as more nutrients than iceberg lettuce. If these greens are new to you, start off slowly by mixing iceberg lettuce with a dark green.
Enjoy crunch and color by adding shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables. Experiment by trying a new vegetable. You can even add fruit such as apple or pear slices. These are your star ingredients. They offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The addition of protein and grains can take your salad from side dish status to main course meal. Beans, low-fat dairy, tuna or grilled chicken are great sources of lean protein. Mix in whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley or spelt to increase flavor, fiber, protein and an abundance of nutrients. And don’t forget the heart healthy fat such as avocado, nuts and seeds. As for dressings, vinaigrettes are usually prepared with heart healthy oils such as canola, extra virgin olive and sunflower oils.
Eating just one salad a day can have a significant health impact. A study conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health found that those who eat salads daily have higher levels of vitamins C, E and folic acid—essential immune supporting nutrients. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables from assorted color groups. Salads are a great way to meet your daily recommendation for fruits and veggies!
Skibicki, Janet. “Celebrate National Salad Month!” Fruits & Veggies: More Matters. Produce for Better Health Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
“Why Salads Are Good For You.” The Association for Dressings & Sauces. The Association for Dressings & Sauces, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.