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4 Ingredients to Supercharge Your Salad

November 06, 2023

It’s already one of the healthiest things you can eat – but could adding certain ingredients make your next salad even more nutritious?

According to one expert, some ingredients are more important than others.

“When building a meal, aim to include a carbohydrate, protein, fat and fiber. This will help make your meal satisfying and nutrient-dense,” says Melissa Keeney, RD, clinical nutrition manager at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

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What are the best toppings for my salad?

According to Keeney, these four toppings can “supercharge” your next salad:

  1. Raw or cooked veggies. Veggies can improve digestion, stabilize blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Cooked vegetables – think roasted kale, squash or asparagus – add a different texture and make your salad more interesting. And if cooked vegetables aren’t for you? Keeney suggests adding raw bell peppers or cauliflower.
  2. Fresh fruit. Fruit is packed with rich antioxidants, nutrients and essential vitamins. These promote the creation of collagen, which helps with hair growth and clear skin. Some in-season options include pomegranate seeds and diced apples.
  3. Seeds. These are a source of healthy, plant-based fats, and they’re packed with iron. This can reduce blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Consider adding sunflower, pumpkin or chia seeds to your salad.
  4. Lean protein. Ranging from seafood to chicken, almonds to pistachios, or beans to lentils, lean protein is a must. Protein will give you a sense of fullness and can help support hormones, bones and muscles.

> Related: 3 Reasons Why Watercress Is the Healthiest Vegetable

Color is always better.

Finding it hard to enjoy your salad? Keeney suggests adding as much color as possible, to help you be more excited for every bite.

But it isn’t just about the aesthetic – the more colorful the salad, the more nutrients you will consume. Deeper colored vegetables like spinach, arugula or radicchio tend to have more nutrition than lighter vegetables like standard iceberg lettuce.

And if that still isn’t enough? Keeney suggests adding a homemade salad dressing to add some extra flavor.

“Most supermarket dressings are high in sodium,” Keeney warns. “It’s often worth it to make your own. Whisk apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice and tahini together for a heart-healthy fall salad dressing. Cayenne pepper gives it a spicy kick!”

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