Sitting back with a crunchy bowl of salad and congratulating yourself on a healthy choice you made? However, are you absolutely sure that what you are eating is 100% healthy and not filling you with empty, pointless calories?
There are plenty of salad ingredients and toppings that do absolutely nothing for you health-wise, for instance, the croutons you’ve ladled in generously, which by the way adds about 100 calories to your salad. And, did you know that iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional content whatsoever? Surprised, right?
Here are the seven common ingredients used in salads. Let’s find how much value they add (or don’t) to your healthy meal.
1. Iceberg Lettuce
Like I mentioned earlier, iceberg lettuce doesn’t really have any significant nutritional value and the greener varieties make for a much better choice. However, nothing beats raw spinach. It’s a powerhouse of potassium and vitamin C and contains 20% of your recommended amount of folate.
Yet another veggie that you can throw away. Cucumber has neither a substantial amount of fiber or vitamins its only virtue being that it makes for a cool and crunchy bite – the kind that you welcome in summers. However, if you are looking for nutritive value, zucchini would be a far better replacement. One cup provides you 35% of vitamin C and is also a good source of fiber, Omega-3, and vitamin B6.
3. Green Beans
Surprisingly enough green beans aren’t quite the super food you thought them to be. Swap your cup of green beans for a cup of broccoli and you have an ingredient that has fewer carbohydrates and a lower glycemic index. Even peas offer more bang for your bucks, since they are a better source of proteins and fiber.
4. Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa may have low calories but it’s also scores low in pretty much everything else that’s good and beneficial for your body. A healthier option would be to choose bean sprouts instead. They have slightly more calories than alfalfa sprouts but pack in more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Much as I love corn and love its taste, I hate to break the bad news for you – they are dismally low in nutritive value and the canned variety has excessive amount of sodium. Great substitutes for the sweet crunch of corn can be found in beets, grape halves and even dried cranberries. They are rich in folic acid, anti-oxidants, and vitamin C.
6. Chowmein Noodles
Ooh, they sure are yummy but not very good for your tummy! Half a cup of these crispy noodles is equivalent to 130 calories, not to mention the 5 grams of fat they add to your diet. In addition, it lacks the minerals and vitamins needed to hold it in good grace. If you really can’t do without savory toppings, try toasted sesame seeds. An ounce of these seeds provide you with the important combination of fiber, calcium, and iron.
Oh, don’t be so sad. I know you love onions, but there are a whole lot of other similar ingredients that are better nutrient-wise, such as scallions and spring onions. They not only have fewer calories but also more vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and folate.
There you have it…the seven ingredients you could do without. But, you also have a range of healthier ingredients you can throw into your salad. Now, you can whip up something that you can truly label healthy.
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