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Building a healthy salad

Bryn Mawr Hospital February 17, 2014 General Wellness

When you're looking for a light and healthy option for a quick meal, chances are you've turned to a salad. Research has shown that people who eat salads are more likely to have higher levels of key nutrients that prevent disease such as cancer and even consume 12 percent less calories throughout the meal.

While salads are typically a healthy choice, it all comes down to knowing what to add in and what to take out. If your lettuce is piled high with toppings and drowning in dressing, your salad can be just as high-calorie a choice as sandwiches, pizza, or other options.

Below, Stacey Weatherbee, RD, LDN at Bryn Mawr Hospital offers tips for building the healthiest salad.

  • Use the “⅔” rule. Two thirds of the salad is made up of greens and vegetables, ⅓ of healthy fats and lean proteins. Don’t deprive yourself but learn to keep everything in moderation when it comes to keeping a healthy diet.
  • Swap iceberg lettuce, which offers minimal nutrient value for darker leafy greens like kale, arugula and romaine lettuce. Dark leafy vegetables are packed with fiber and lots of vitamins. Add color to your salad with red and yellow peppers, carrots and tomatoes to offer additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? Fruits are a great way to liven up your salad. Try adding raisins, cranberries, apples or pears. Remember to use less of the dried versions of fruit, about a tablespoon will do.
  • Chickpeas, black beans, grilled salmon or chicken are lean protein options for a healthy salad. Steer clear of meats that are high in sodium and saturated fat such as salami, pepperoni or bacon.
  • One of the top ways to ruin a healthy salad is by drenching it in high fat dressing. Instead of resorting to low-fat dressings, try using half the portion size of a regular fat dressing. One tablespoon of regular dressing (instead of two) will aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins found in the vegetables such as carrots, yellow peppers, leafy greens and much more!

With a watchful eye and a little self control you can have a healthy salad that tastes great too.