Now that it’s getting warmer the winter stews are being replaced by fresh summery salads. It’s a time to eat a little less but get a little more out of our food.
Eating green has been praised as a great way to ensure that you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins and other nutrients. Studies have shown that the Vitamin B in leafy greens can help keep the mind sharp especially in older adults. And a green-filled diet has been linked to a lower risk for heart disease and certain cancers. But although salads are always a healthy favorite, the type of greens you use greatly determines how much “health” you’re really getting out of them. If you’re going to have a salad, why not choose a green that going to give you the most benefit.
We all know that iceberg lettuce is infamously known for its nutrition, or lack thereof. Used widely in restaurants for economic reasons, iceburg is fresh and crunchy but bland in taste, making it a good base for flavors but a poor choice for nutrients. However, it’s not that this pale, water-filled greenisn’t good for you, it’s just that there are so many better options out there.
So what should you use instead?
In the upper tier of the healthy pyramid are spinach and the king of the greens, kale.
While spinach is recognized for its large supply of iron, potassium, and its appearance in the Popeye cartoons, kale is may be edging it out nutritionally. Seemingly the newest trend in the veggie world, kale is delicious served fresh, sauted, or baked into those tasty chips. A salad of this dark-colored green is packed with more calcium than a glass of milk and is a great source of Vitamin A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.
But what about other greens? There’s certainly more piled up in supermarket produce sections than just these few. Other great choices for salads include chicory (including radicchio), watercress, dandelion greens (yes you can eat them), bokchoy, and the many types of mustard greens.
It’s important to note that these greens on their own can be a little bitter, but create a mixed green salad with a few of thesemellowed out with spinach or kale and you’re fulfilling several of your daily recommended nutrients in one bowl.
With all these options, each with its own flavor, texture, and nutritional benefit, there’s no reason to settle for regular old lettuce ever again.
For more information, Huffpost’s Healthy Living writer Sarah Klein shares the insights of Rachel Bergman, nutrition director for caloriecount.com on what’s really in the greens we eat.
The Body Ecology’s Guide to the Ten Healthiest Greens also provide more detailed descriptions of the mentioned greens including tips of how best to prepare them.