By: Nick Thomas
When we begin a new healthy-eating routine, one of the meals we tend to automatically go for is salad. Now while this is not a bad idea, it does need to be the right “kind” of salad for it to truly benefit our body. Salad can be a sneaky thing, especially if you are eating at a restaurant. Some salads can contain just as many, if not more, calories as a big hamburger and plate full of French fries. Salad, in general, can also be incredibly lacking in nutritional value and leave us feeling quite hungry very quickly. However, you can make a fabulous tasting salad that will have great benefit to your nutrition; it’s all about the greens you choose!
Let’s just go ahead and say that a salad made up mostly of the pale green iceberg lettuce, which is so common, will NOT cut it! Throw it out! We want to build our salad with rich, deep greens that pack a huge nutritional punch. Spinach and kale are at the top of this list.
These greens not only offer an amazing fiber punch, but spinach is packing a lot of iron your body needs to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Another major asset of eating spinach is the magnesium it provides. Magnesium is a mineral that helps keep things like headaches, muscle cramps, and chronic fatigue at bay. It also helps keep your blood sugar level and thyroid function normal. Finally, potassium is an unexpected component found here which aids in bone growth and may reduce high blood pressure.
Now kale especially contains tons of immune-boosting vitamin A. It also offers vitamin C and RDI which provides a healthy immune system, not to mention a significant amount of vitamin K which your body needs for preventing blood clotting and supporting bone health.
Both of these leafy greens have their own incredible benefits, as you can see. You can now make an educated salad choice and pick the greens that best help your body. For example, if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure, spinach will be your best choice. If you feel like you’re coming down with a cold, reach for some kale or just grab a bit of both for good measure.
Finally, remember not to destroy your healthy greens by piling them high with poor “toppings.” Keep it smart and tasty with some grilled chicken, olive oil and vinegar for dressing, and a few of your favorite veggies! If you’re just not a salad person, you might try making a smoothie and adding in a generous handful of these greens to trick yourself into getting the amazing health benefits without the taste.
Remember that food should fuel our body. It’s not about how much you eat, it is COMPLETELY about WHAT you eat!
For more information regarding a personalized general or sports nutrition plan contact me at Prime Performance 423-805-0870.
By: Nick Thomas
Owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist