May is National Salad Month, an annual U.S. celebration that encourages everyone to embrace salads and reap the many benefits of adding more vegetables, fruits and lean protein to our diets. This month-long salute to leafy greens was initially launched in 1992 in response to a 1991 Gallup Poll that noted three out of every four people eat a tossed salad at least every other day.
Fast forward 25 years and salads are more important than ever. A recent government study shows that only one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that these foods should be half of our daily diet. Another study by the USDA says that just 3 percent of us get enough fiber every day.
At Healics, our certified wellness coaches encourage participants to make salads a regular part of their daily diet — not just in May, but year round. Healthy, smart salad choices are the perfect way to increase our intake of vegetables, fruits and fiber to not just eat, but live, healthier.
Numerous nutritional benefits
Study after study proves that people who choose healthy salad options every day have significantly, and consistently higher, blood levels of the key nutrients our body needs to fight heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, immune system problems, eye and skin disorders, and even wrinkles. Recent research by the UCLA School of Public Health found that people who regularly eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing have considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E, and folic acid — all key nutrients in promoting a healthy immune system.
Create a delicious balance
Like any prepared dish, the ingredients you put into a salad determine its health benefits and overall calorie count. While a quick internet search will provide endless recipes and options, take note of these quick healthy salad guidelines:
• Look for freshness – As we head into the plentiful farmers’ market season, seek out locally grown, fresh produce. From week to week, you’ll find there is always something new to add to your salad. Best of all, recently picked vegetables and fruits retain the most nutrients.
• Go dark and bright – Dark green lettuces, kale and spinach are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, while bok choy and mustard greens provide many of the B vitamins. Brightly colored vegetables are also nutritional powerhouses, so aim for a rainbow of color in your salad. Most veggies have just 25 calories per ½ cup serving, so load up.
• Add fun and flavorful fruits – Just about any fruit adds variety, color and flavor to a salad. Apples, grapes, berries, pears, oranges, grapefruit and melons are all delicious options. Go ahead, add your favorite fruit to your next salad.
• Look for lean proteins – Protein provides amino acids, all vital for your body’s bones, muscles and cartilage. Your body also needs protein to make hormones, enzymes and other chemicals. Skinless chicken or turkey breast, chunk light tuna or salmon, and eggs are all excellent lean protein choices. Tofu, chickpeas, kidney or pinto beans, or other legumes are great vegetarian options.
• Dress lightly – A little bit of healthy fat helps you absorb the nutrients in your salad and provides vitamin E and selenium to help lower blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease Choose a light dressing of olive oil, whisked with flavor enhancers such as vinegars, lemon, mustards, herbs and garlic. Want to keep your calories even lighter? Dip instead of drizzle.
• Don’t forget the crunch – A sprinkling of sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts or other nuts and seeds add not only taste, but healthy fats and fiber. So add some crunch. Just make sure to sprinkle lightly to limit the calories.
How Healics can help
Every year, Healics’ certified wellness coaches work with thousands of employees and their spouses across the U.S. to help them learn to not just love salads — but to make long-term dietary improvements that they can maintain for a lifetime. We give participants the knowledge, tools, recipes and support that they need to reach a healthier weight and lower their risks for disease.
Whether you are a company of two or 10,000, Healics can team with you to develop a comprehensive wellness and coaching programs that helps your employees achieve their goals, reduce their health risks and take the necessary steps to feel better and live longer. We’re nurse-owned and -operated, and will partner with you to create a wellness culture that helps to lower insurance claims, increase work productivity — and most importantly — allows your employees to lead healthier, happier lives.
Want to give your employees the benefit of better health? Call us at 1-800-HEALICS today or contact us now.