I’ll be honest… salads are one of my absolute favorite meals. But they can get boring. It’s easy to get into a routine of making the same salad over and over and over again. But there really are so many great ways to spice up your salad that will not only help you get out of a “salad rut,” but will also provide your with amazing health benefits. So without further ado, here are five ingredients that you can and should be adding to your salad!
1. Avocados. A lot of people shy away from eating avocados because they are higher in calories. DON’T DO THIS! Avocados are amazing for you. Though they are a higher calorie fruit (yes, avocados are fruits, not vegetables), they are nutrient dense and provide numerous health benefits. Like what, you ask? They’re full of healthy fats and omega-3s, which are great for your heart and provide you with energy. They are also rich in fiber, which aids in digestion, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and prevents against heart disease. They contain more potassium (reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity) than a banana. Avocados are also a great source of vitamins C, K, and B6. And why should you add them to your salads? Research suggests that your body better absorbs antioxidants when they are consumed with a food rich in healthy monounsaturated fats—avocado.
2. Chia Seeds. Chances are that you’ve heard of chia seeds by now. But many people don’t truly understand the health benefits this superfood. Allow me to enlighten you. Chia seeds are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help increase brain function, prevent heart disease, and can even boost your mood. They are also full of fiber (aids digestion), calcium (builds strong bones and teeth), other important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese (all of which provide you with energy and help maintain a healthy weight). And…they are a great source of protein, providing 4.4 g of protein per serving.
3. Lemon Juice. I’m not going to lie, I love salad dressings. But recently I’ve been onto something that is lower in calories and higher in health benefits…lemon juice! Lemons are full of vitamin C and other antioxidants, which help support a healthy immune system and keep your skin both clear and wrinkle-free. Lemon juice is also great for your digestion, helping support liver function and aid the release of toxins in the body body.
4. Pine Nuts. Pine nuts are a great salad topping. In addition to containing high amounts of potassium, iron, fiber, magnesium, healthy fats, and protein, they also contain a fatty acid known as pinolenic acid. Pinolenic acid can aid in weight-loss because it suppresses your appetite and helps keep you fuller longer. So pile on those pine nuts! Well, not too many 😉
5. Hemp Hearts. Hemp hearts are another superfood that is nutrient dense. They are high in protein (10 g per 3 TBSP), contain essential fatty acids such as omega 3/omega 6, and are packed with fiber. They’re also full of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B6. The protein, complex carbs, and calories in hemp hearts are incredibly energizing and help keep you full between meals.