Spring is (finally) in the air! As temperatures rise and we come out of winter hibernation, our eating habits start to change. We shun the oven and fire up the grill; skip heavy meals in favor of lighter ones. We become more mindful of the extra pounds we put on during the long, hard winter and of the rapid approach of the dreaded swimsuit season.
Adding a salad to dinner is an easy and inexpensive way to eat light and drop some of that winter weight. Vegetables are a good source of fiber, which helps to fill you up and eases the temptation to overeat high-calorie foods. Greens and other vegetables are a great source of complete and natural vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that our bodies need to function at peak performance. Even the salad dressing can be healthy, when chosen wisely. An oil-based dressing made with monounsaturated oil (such as olive oil) will actually help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently.
There are a variety of greens available locally at relatively low prices. Here is a list of some of the more common greens and the health benefits according to whfoods.org:
- Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, along with calcium and folate and potassium. It also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Spinach only has 20 calories per serving and has antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. It is also a great source of vitamins K and A, as well as the mineral magnesium.
- Collard greens are a very good source of vitamins B2 and B6 and an excellent source of calcium. Additionally, collard greens are high in fiber and support good digestion.
- Turnip greens are helpful in ridding the body of harmful toxins and are an excellent source of vitamin E and copper.
- Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which work together to support heart health.
So forget the oven, serve up a salad, and enjoy the health benefits of greens!