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Lettuce in Your Salads

Fitness for mind and body.

Essentially, iceberg lettuce simply looks pretty but only serves to take up space. The watery leaves contain almost no nutrients. The next time you find yourself at a salad bar, try the more nutritional greens.

Quick Tips

Perk up soggy lettuce by soaking in cold water with some lemon juice. To store place in a zip lock bag with paper towel to absorb moisture.

Wrap your washed lettuce in paper towel when storing it in the refrigerator to prevent rust.

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine is not your garden-variety lettuce, rather this celery-flavored green is one of the best vegetable sources of beta-carotene. It contains 712 micrograms per cup. High levels of beta-carotene can aid in the inhibited growth of prostate-cancer cells by as much as 50-percent.

Serving Suggestions: Toss it with croutons, diced tomato, avocado, and slices of red onion. Cover with a light Parmesan ranch dressing and top with black olives.

Romaine Lettuce in Your Salads

Arugula

Calcium is the essential nutrient in asparagus. One cup of these mustard-flavored leaves has 10-percent of the bone-building mineral found in a glass of milk and 100-percent less saturated fat. There is also magnesium in every bite for more protection against osteoporosis.

Serving suggestions: Add diced red or green apples, dried cranberries and dried blueberries. Douse the entire mixture with a dressing made of three parts extra-virgin olive oil and one part lemon juice.

Arugula

Watercress

Not only do the cross-like flowers remind us of the family that it belongs to; but also thoughout history this family was recognised for its ability "to serve man" with valuable health and healing properties. Watercress is a pepper-flavored HEPA filter for your body. Watercress contains a phytochemical that may prevent airborne pollutants from causing lung cancer.

Watercress may significantly reduce DNA damage to white blood cells and increase the level of antioxidants in your body, while reducing your risk for cancer, according to British researchers. Hate greens? You don't have to eat a trough of watercress to reap the health benefits -- just a small bowl. Here are a few simple chef-approved tips beyond salad: Add the mustardy green to your sandwich in place of lettuce, or make a watercress pesto as a topping for pasta or crostini.

Watercress

Serving suggestions: Mix with red onion, watermelon, cantaloupe and slivered almonds and top with equal amounts of lemon and orange juice.

Endive

Endive is slightly bitter and a little crisp. It offers twice the fiber of iceberg lettuce as a nutritional benefit. A cup of endive also provides almost 20-percent of your daily requirement of folate. People who do not get enough of this essential B vitamin may have a 50-percent greater risk of developing hard disease.

Serving Suggestions: Mix endive with walnuts and bits of diced ripe pear. Top with low fat blue cheese dressing.

Endive

Mustard Greens

Packed with the amino acid tyrosine, these spicy, crunchy greens are beneficial in improving and protecting memory and concentration.

Serving Suggestions: Mix the greens with snow peas and diced onion, ham and Muenster cheese. Top with sherry vinaigrette dressing.

Mustard Greens

Bok Choy

Think of this as a cabbage-flavored multivitamin. A bowl of bok choy has 23-percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A and a third of your vitamin C, along with three cancer-fighting phytochemicals: flavonoids, isothiocyanates, and dithiolthione. In short -- it is very good for you.

Serving Suggestions: Slice it thin and mix it with grated fresh ginger, orange slices, mushrooms and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with soy sauce and toss.

Bok Choy

Spinach

Spinach is a top source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that protect your vision from the ravages of aging. Recent research has shown that spinach leaves that look fully alive and vital have greater concentrations of vitamin C than spinach leaves that are pale in color.

Serving Suggestions: Mix it with some chicken breast, black olives, peach slices and red bell pepper and top with honey-mustard dressing. Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe. Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach. Spinach salads are a classic easy and delicious meal or side dish.

Spinach

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi tastes like something between cabbage and turnip. Each serving contains nearly 25-percent of your daily requirement of potassium (to help keep a lid on your blood pressure), along with glucosinolate, a phytochemical that may prevent some cancers.

Serving Suggestions: Slice the bulb very thin and toss it with carrot slices, grated cabbage, diced celery, and chopped onions. Top with your favorite vinaigrette.

Kohlrabi

Brown Lettuce Leaves?

If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may not be suitable for salads, but it is for sauteing. Sauteed salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual but tasty side dish. Saute lettuces just as you would spinach. Cook them quickly in a little olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. They taste great, and you cant tell that the greens were once a little brown.

A Healthy Salad

A salad is bowl is like a blank canvas. Add the right ingredients and you can have a healthful, satisfying masterpiece. Following are some suggestions for making one healthy salad!

  • Add pomegranate. Ditch raisins for 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds to save 18g sugar.
  • Add eggs. The yolks fat helps you absorb up to 9 times more carotenoid antioxidants.
  • Mix red and green. A blend of red and green lettuce may protect best against free radicals.
  • Go nuts. Fiber, fat and protein give your salad more staying power.
  • DIY Dressing. Mixing olive oil and vinegar is the easiest way to avoid sugar and chemical emulsifiers.

Sources: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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