Hidden health benefits in a bowl of salad

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What comprises a healthy bowl of salad?

Green leafy vegetables, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, beetroot, sprouts, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, olive oil, chicken breast, salmon and shrimp are some of the popular foods included in a salad. One can add a mix of green, yellow, red and other colourful veggies to the salad to get nutrition and flavour.

Why should one consume salad?

Depending on the constituents, a bowl of salad may be loaded with vitamin A, C and K, minerals, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. All these nutrients can help in boosting the immune system, fighting various diseases, and enhance the body’s overall wellbeing. Let us take a look at some of the benefits of eating a bowl of salad every day.

#1 - Keeps heart diseases at bay

Eating a cup full of nitrate-rich leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce is known to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 12% to 26%. The nitrates found in leafy greens convert into nitric oxide during digestion, which widens the blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

#2 - Reservoir of fibre

Leafy greens and raw vegetables such as carrots, beets and broccoli are loaded with fibre. Fibre helps in reducing bad cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, and improves digestion. Fibre also maintains the health of the gut microflora (the good bacteria in the intestines), which makes nutrient absorption more efficient.

#3 - Builds muscle strength

Studies reveal nitrates found in leafy greens improves muscle efficiency and helps in strengthening them. Potassium found in lettuce is known to help in improving muscle contraction and prevent muscle weakness and cramps.

#4 - Helps in weight management

A bowl of fibre-rich salad can make a person feel full for longer and prevent snacking between meals. Leafy greens, beans and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) are low-calorie foods that can be included in a diet to help maintain a healthy weight.

#5 - Perfect addition to a diabetes-friendly diet

Research reveals that a salad rich in leafy greens can help in maintaining the blood sugar levels of diabetics. Vegetables such as onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers have a low glycemic index, therefore they prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.

#6 - Improves bone health

Leafy vegetables contain vitamin A, C and K, which promotes bone formation and enhance bone strength. While vitamin K helps in the formation of cartilage (flexible connective tissue), vitamin A develops new bone cells and prevents osteoporosis (weakening of bones). Vitamin K also prevents osteopenia (reduced bone mass) and reduces the risk of fractures.

#7 - Protects the skin

Vegetables such as cucumber, tomato and celery are rich in water content and hence, provide hydration to the skin. These vegetables also contain vitamin C, which promotes the production of collagen, protects the skin from UV radiations and delays the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, sagging of the skin and dark circles.

#8 - Boosts vision

Green leafy vegetables also contain carotenoids and vitamin A that help in enhancing vision, improving the light adaptation of the eyes, and reducing the formation of harmful free radicals. Lettuce also contains antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other eye diseases.

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