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|Try These Easy to Make Healthy Low Fat Salads|
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The raw vegetables in salads also offer the added benefits of fiber for better digestion and antioxidants for boosting immunity. According to the study, those who eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing have considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E, B6, and folic acid -- key nutrients in promoting a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, heart disease and other chronic diseases and conditions.
When it comes to salads, the only limitation is your imagination. Be creative: use a variety of different lettuce types and add your favorite foods. Whether they're vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, whole wheat croutons, soy products, meats or cheeses, most every food goes well with lettuce. Change the ingredients to create completely different flavors, and you will never get bored with healthy salad meals.
Start with the "Greens"
Most salads start with a pile of greens. Since greens are low in calories and are a good source of fiber, it's a great way to add volume to your meal without adding a lot of calories. There are different varieties of lettuce, such as iceberg, leaf, spinach, escarole, romaine, or butter. The darker lettuces offer more vitamins than pale iceberg, for example.
Spinach has iron, and all varieties are low in calories. One cup of shredded lettuce has about 5 to 10 calories.
A salad of dark leafy greens offers a simple way to get more lutein.
Romaine lettuce has about 26 per cent more lutein than iceberg and spinach has a whopping 90 per cent more!. Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, manganese and chromium. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorous. The vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber found in romaine lettuce are especially good for the prevention or alleviation of many common health complaints.
Romaine's vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green. Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol When cholesterol becomes oxidized, it becomes sticky and starts to build up in the artery walls forming plaques. If these plaques become too large, they can block off blood flow or break, causing a clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects. In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.
Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine's folic acid content. This B vitamin is needed by the body to convert a damaging chemical called homocysteine into other, benign substances. If not converted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attack and Stroke. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of potassium, which has been shown in numerous studies to be useful in lowering high blood pressure, another risk factor for coronary heart disease. With its folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber content, romaine lettuce can significantly contribute to a heart-healthy diet.
Add Flavor and Texture
Almost any raw vegetable can be cut up and added to a salad to jaz it up and give the salad a new twist. Green beans, snap peas, carrots, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, artichokes, avocados, tomatoes, and cucumbers are all great suggestions. Brightly colored vegetables have bioflavonoids, and the dark green vegetables are lowest in calories -- about 20 calories per half cup serving. We need five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, so eating a salad is a good way to meet those needs. Raw veggies not only add vitamins, color, but also CRUNCH!
Add some flavor and texture by adding beans. One-half cup of red beans yields 13,727 antioxidants; red kidney beans have 13,259; pinto beans, 11,864; and black beans, 4,191. One-third cup of cooked beans has 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of complex carbohydrates (carbs), significant protein and little fat. Eating beans may help prevent Colon Cancer and reduce blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease, researchers say. With this being known, beans can also make a great healthy side dish too!!! Although the bean does not contain a complete protein, if you get some grains sometime during the day, you'll get the benefit of complete protein. Beans are also full of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promote digestive health and relieve constipation.
Sprinkling a few nuts like almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds or walnuts can jazz up a salads while adding flavor and a nice crunch. Just a few nuts will do, about one-eighth cup of nuts adds about 90 calories. Walnuts are a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), and all of the nuts add protein and heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, both which has been shown to lower risk to heart disease.
Fruit can also be a good choice to spice up a salad. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apple slices and raisins not add a delicious burst of flavor and sweetness but they add vitamins and antioxidants and can also help you cut back on, or eliminate, high-calories salad dressings. Dried fruit works well too. Try adding: cranberries, cherries, raisins and apricots are delicious additions. A half-cup of apple slices has only 30 calories, and a half cup of berries has only 40 calories!!!
Add Some Protein to Make it a Meal
To make a meal of a salad, you may wish to add some healthy protein sources like chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs whites, lean beef, cooked shrimp, chicken breast, or strips of low fat cheese. Avoid dark meat, and fried meats like chicken strips or battered and fried shrimp. They contain unhealthy fats and lots of calories. A quarter cup of chopped chicken meat or one egg will add 75 calories. Half a can of tuna will add about 80 calories.
Low Fat Dressings To Top Things Off
Toss green salads with a citrus-based vinaigrette. You really won't miss the fat so long as you compensate with flavor.
Healthy Salads Recipes from Health and Fitness Expert Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar's Low Fat Chicken Caesar Salad
Caesar salads can be huge fat traps with their creamy dressings and deep-fried croutons. Not this one. Make your own tangy, low fat Caesar salad dressing, and use either fat-free croutons from the grocery store or bake your own croutons.
Use rotisserie chicken for speed, or top your salad with slices of freshly grilled skinless chicken breasts.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Per Serving: Calories 188, Calories from Fat 39, Total Fat 4.5g (Sat 1.5g), Cholesterol 54mg, Sodium 328mg, Carbohydrate 11.3g, Fiber 2.3g, Protein 25.9g
Three Bean Salad
One of my favorite salads is Three Bean Salad. It's a low fat, high fiber and high protein salad, which you can serve at any summer gathering. It's delicious at room temperature, but you can serve it chilled, too.
Per Serving: Calories 184, Calories from Fat 21, Total Fat 2.4g (sat 0.3g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 281mg, Carbohydrate 30.4g, Fiber 9.5g, Protein 10.3g
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