Super Salads

Salads are a popular lunch and a super way to boost your intake of vegetables. In just one big bowlful you can get your five daily vegetable servings—if not more. Yet lunchtime salads can be either good news or bad news, depending on the salad.

Romaine lettuce and spinach: The darker the color, the more nutrients

Romaine lettuce and spinach: The darker the color, the more nutrients

Peppers (1/2 large): 20 calories; provides the Daily Value for vitamin C

Sunflower seeds (2 tblsp):

Tomato (1 medium):

rich in cancer-protective lycopene

Sunflower seeds (2 tblsp):

Olive oil (small amount): 1 tblsp = 120 calories; source of heart-healthy fat

Chickpeas (1/2 cup): 140 calories; boosts protein by 6 grams;

Carrot (1 medium): 30 calories; rich in cancer-protective beta carotene

170 calories; boosts fiber and vitamin E

If you are a dieter who deems salads an appropriate lunch, take heed. A meager salad offers too few calories. You'll likely end up visiting the vending machine that afternoon. I suggest that dieters have a salad for dinner but eat a substantial meal at lunch. If you take full advantage of a brimming salad bar, tak6 heed. A typkal salad-bar meal can easily contain 1,000 calories, with 45 percent of those from fat. This is not a diet meal.

To create a high-energy sports salad that is the mainstay of your lunch or dinner, include enough carbohydrate-rich foods to make it substantial, but limit the fat to control the calories. Here are five tips to help you get the most in your salad bowl.

Tip 1. Boost the salad's carbohydrate content by adding

  • carbohydrate-dense vegetables such as corn, corn relish, peas, beets, and carrots;
  • beans and legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils;
  • cooked rice, pasta, or potato chunks;
  • orange sections, diced apple, raisins, banana slices, or berries;
  • toasted croutons (limit your intake of buttered croutons that leave you with greasy fingers); and
  • thick slices of whole-grain bread and a glass of low-fat milk for accompaniments.

Tip 2. Choose a variety of dark, colorful veggies such as red tomatoes, green peppers, orange carrots, and dark lettuces. Colorful vegetables nutritionally surpass paler lettuces, cucumbers, onions, celery, and radishes. For example, a salad made with spinach has seven times the vitamin C of one made with iceberg lettuce; one made with dark romaine has twice the vitamin C. Plus, colorful vegetables are brimming with the antioxi-dant nutrients and phytochemicals that protect your health. Cauliflower, although colorless, is a good source of vitamin C (70 mg per cup, raw) and the cancer-fighting nutrients found in the cruciferous vegetable family to which it belongs. See table 4.1 for a ranking of salad fixings.

Table 4.1 Ranking Vegetables

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has developed a system for ranking vegetables in order of their nutritional value and fiber content. The higher the score, the better and more nutrient dense the vegetable.

Table 4.1 Ranking Vegetables

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has developed a system for ranking vegetables in order of their nutritional value and fiber content. The higher the score, the better and more nutrient dense the vegetable.

Vegetables

Nutrition score*

Spinach, 1 cup raw

287

Red pepper, 1/2 medium raw

261

Carrot, 1 medium raw

204

Romaine lettuce, 1 cup shredded

174

Broccoli, 1/2 cup raw florettes

160

Cabbage 1/2 cup raw

135

Boston or Bibb lettuce, 1 cup

134

Green pepper, 1/2 raw

109

Green peas, 1/2 cup frozen

104

Avocado, 1/2 Hass raw

82

Tomato, 1/2 raw

78

Corn, 1/2 cup

67

Green beans, 1/2 cup cooked

65

Cauliflower, 1/2 cup raw

62

Iceberg lettuce, 1 cup

45

Beets, 1/2 cup canned

33

Mushrooms, 1/2 cup cooked

33

Cucumber, 1/2 cup raw

14

Alfalfa sprouts, 1/2 cup raw

7

*Based on six nutrients and fiber.

Copyright CSPI 2002. Adapted from Nutrition Action Healthletter. www.cspinet.org

Copyright CSPI 2002. Adapted from Nutrition Action Healthletter. www.cspinet.org

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