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A Salad a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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We know it's good for us but it just got better! A new study from UCLA School of Public Health and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center says eating just one salad a day is even better for us than we thought. How great is that?

The study, titled Raw Vegetable Consumption and Nutritional Status in the Adult US Population, was published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and looked at over 17,500 peoples' diets and their consumption of salad and raw vegetables. Turns out big salad and raw veggie eaters had higher levels of vitamins C, E, B6, and folic acid than those folks who weren't so veg happy. Not only are these vitamins essential but they beef up the immune system and may also ward off heart disease, some cancers and other chronic diseases. The salad and raw veggie eaters also got more lycopene, beta carotene and other phytonutrients that may also beg off chronic diseases. Salad eaters get more fiber too. What more could you ask for?

Well here's more: Eating a salad before a meal can help us eat fewer calories overall cuz it fills us up a little bit so we eat less of our entree. And salad doesn't just mean lettuce tomato and cucumber anymore. Oh no, those days are gone! Get crazy and creative with your salads: flavor 'em up with fruit, nuts, beans, corn, avocado, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, pretty much anything you and your kids like. I make whole meals out of salads by throwing some salmon, grilled chicken, veggie patties or veggie chicken patties on top.

And this may throw you but we need a little fat in our salad to help us absorb nutrients (I said a little not a lot). So try lowfat salad dressings instead of nonfat salad dressings (they're too watery and sickly sweet anyway) to get the most bang for your salad buck. Adding healthy fats with a little avocado and or nuts works too. Do try to avoid full fat salad dressings cuz they can really add up the calories and cancel out the benefit.

I've got lots of yummy salad recipes so will start posting some of them starting tomorrow. In the meantime check out the website http://www.saladaday.org/default.asp for some salad recipes and more details on the study. And for tips on how to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies see my post Being Fruit and Veggie Friendly: Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat 'Em from September 12.

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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